April 23, 2021

Man Utd


Philippe Coutinho and Man United’s other alternatives to £100m Grealish transfer

6 min read

Manchester United continue to be linked with Jack Grealish ahead of the summer transfer window.

United have previously been interested in the Aston Villa star but Dean Smith’s side escape from relegation last season saw Grealish stay at the club and sign a new contract.

It remains to be seen whether Grealish will eventually look to leave Villa but, due to his new deal, the finances involved in signing the 25-year-old will likely be incredibly high, with latest reports claiming a potential £100million fee.

Whilst United have money to spend this summer, they are understood to be wary of spending too much on one or two signings.

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With that being the case, here is a look at some potential Grealish alternatives who could be available at a much cheaper price.

Philippe Coutinho

It is fair to say Coutinho’s move from Liverpool to Barcelona has not entirely gone to plan, with the attacker seemingly available for a massively cut-price fee after a disastrous three years at the Nou Camp.

Yet he has shown flashes of the player that was able to command a £130m fee when moving in January 2018, having helped Bayern Munich to win the Champions League whilst on loan there last season.

There was also brief hope of a revival at Barca under Ronald Koeman this season, with the Brazilian directly contributing a goal or assist for four games in a row at the start of the season from his favoured position of No. 10 rather than on the left wing.

Yet an injury has kept him out since December, meaning he has been unable to turn that promise into anything substantial, and reports from Spain maintain the 28-year-old will be available to sign in the summer.

Coutinho may not command the sort of reputation he once had, but he is a proven performer in the Premier League and would add depth to United’s squad in a far more cost-effective way than spending £100m on a player would.

Paulo Dybala

Dybala is out of contract in 2022 and is reported to have fallen out with the hierarchy at Juventus, meaning he could be available at a relatively cheaper price in the summer.

He plays a little further forward than the likes of Grealish, but is highly adept at bringing teammates into play and creating goalscoring opportunities for others.

Premier League clubs have long been credited with having an interest in the 27-year-old, who, despite his obvious talents, has often struggled to become a key player in Turin.

Perhaps the biggest question mark over whether he would come to United is the fact he plays as a centre-forward more than an attacking midfielder.

Whilst he has skills to play a deeper role, the fact United are looking for an out-and-out striker this summer as well means it is difficult to see exactly where Dybala would fit in if he played his natural position.

Christian Eriksen

Similar to Coutinho, Eriksen’s move abroad from the Premier League has not gone to plan, with the attacking midfielder struggling for form at Inter Milan since his move from Spurs in January 2020.

He was heavily linked with a move back to England in the last two transfer windows, but was recently praised for overcoming his difficult start to enjoy a period of good form and feature regularly for Inter.

It remains to be seen whether that will be enough to keep him at Inter this summer, though.

A proven Premier League player, the 29-year-old could be available relatively cheaply should Inter decide to part ways and would represent a decent squad player for United, especially if he is able to recapture his best form..

Lorenzo Pellegrini

Another player out of contract in 2022 is Roma star Pellegrini.

The 24-year-old has seven goals and seven assists in all competitions for Roma this season, having played in both a No. 10 and central midfield role.

Roma are keen to negotiate a new deal with the midfielder, with his current release clause reportedly set at a startlingly low €30m, but both parties are said to have agreed to park talks until the end of the season.

He has been praised for his creativity, having averaged 1.8 key passes per game in Serie A this season, and, at 24, is likely to improve in future.

Should a club be able to exploit his low release clause and current contract situation, he would likely prove an exciting purchase with high value-for-money.

Nabil Fekir

Infamously subject of interest from Liverpool in 2018 in a transfer move that fell through when he was at Lyon, Fekir moved to Real Betis in 2019 and has proven an important player for the club.

He has six assists and three goals in 31 appearances for the Spanish side, mainly playing as an attacking midfielder.

Perhaps a little different to other playmakers on this list due to his more direct style – Fekir is a fine dribbler of the ball – he still averages 1.5 key passes per game and has made 38 passes per 90 minutes in La Liga this season.

Barcelona and Arsenal have both also been linked with the French international, but he would likely prove a lot cheaper than many No. 10s available.

Giovanni Reyna

Reyna would not come cheap in comparison to some players on this list, with his current market value being over £30m.

It is easy to see why, with the 18-year-old already a key player for Borussia Dortmund, who United know are difficult to negotiate with.

Yet, at 18, United would be signing a player for the long-term with a big future ahead of him.

Giovanni Reyna in action for Borussia Dortmund
Giovanni Reyna in action for Borussia Dortmund

With four goals and five assists to his name, it has been a breakout season for Reyna at Dortmund, with his passing ability and creativity both shining through.

In terms of immediate value-for-money, Reyna would not be top of the list, with the US international not yet the finished project.

Yet, in the long-term, a club signing Reyna before he develops further could prove to be shrewd business, particularly with his Dortmund teammates Jadon Sancho and Erling Haaland both valued at over £100m.

Martin Odegaard

Norway international Odegaard has enjoyed a promising start to his loan move to Arsenal, scoring key goals against Spurs and Olympiacos along with being influential in helping the Gunners come from 3-0 down against West Ham to salvage a point.

Yet the Gunners have no option to turn his loan into a permanent deal, which could spark somewhat of a bidding war should he leave Real Madrid this summer.

After arriving at the Bernabeu as a wildly highly-rated teenager, Odegaard is yet to make the breakthrough at Los Blancos, despite a series of impressive loan moves.

With a market value of over £30m, United would be able to land Odegaard for less than Grealish, particularly with the impact Covid-19 has had on Real Madrid’s finances.


Isco has regularly been linked with a move to Old Trafford in the past, having previously been touted as one of the world’s leading playmakers.

Yet he has fallen out of favour at the Bernabeu, making just seven starts this season.

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A fee of around £30m would reportedly be enough to land the 28-year-old, who has also been linked with Chelsea and Inter.

His passing ability is excellent, as is his ability to bring his teammates into play, and he could be an effective squad player.

Whilst his lack of football this season may mean some are hesitant to make a move for the Spanish international, he is a technically excellent player and could enjoy a similar resurgence that James Rodriguez has enjoyed at Everton after leaving Los Blancos.

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