Manchester United were never close to making a move for Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish this summer, with the attacking midfielder signing a new five-year deal at Villa Park on Tuesday.
Grealish featured on United’s list of potential recruits during this transfer window and he was admired at Old Trafford, but the MEN understands there were no discussions with Villa during the summer over a deal for the 25-year-old.
Instead United’s focus during the window has been on their top target, in Borussia Dortmund’s England winger Jadon Sancho.
The focus on Sancho didn’t stop the club signing Ajax midfielder Donny van de Beek for £35million, but it’s understood the Holland international wasn’t seen as a direct alternative to Grealish.
There was uncertainty over where Grealish would fit into Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side. He began last season in an advanced midfield role at Villa before moving to the left of a front three, a position nailed down at Old Trafford by Marcus Rashford.
While Van de Beek can also play in an advanced midfield role, providing support and cover to Bruno Fernandes, he also brings more versatility to midfield, having played in a deeper position as well at Ajax, a role that is unaccustomed to Grealish.
United struck good value in signing Van de Beek from Ajax, capitalising when a move to Real Madrid failed to materialise, and focussing on value has been key in a summer where the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic is still uncertain.
The club have so far refused to match Dortmund’s asking price for Sancho and are instead considering alternative options on the right-wing, with the transfer window closing in just under three weeks.
With Villa putting a price tag of £80million on Grealish, United had no intention of doing business at those figures for a player who wouldn’t have been guaranteed a first-team spot straightaway.