Football

Manchester City close to record £100m deal for Jack Grealish

England international in line for Community Shield on Sunday morning if move goes through in time

Manchester City are on the verge of signing Aston Villa playmaker Jack Grealish in a British record £100 million (S$188m) deal, reported the British media yesterday.

City made their blockbuster bid for Grealish last Friday and now it appears Villa are ready to let their captain move to the Etihad Stadium.

The English Premier League champions have been heavily linked with the 25-year-old since the end of last season.

Neither club have commented but British media claim a deal should be concluded soon.

That could put Grealish in contention to make his debut in Sunday morning's (Singapore time) Community Shield against Leicester City at Wembley.

If Grealish does move to City, the mooted fee would shatter the British record of £89m paid by Manchester United to sign Paul Pogba from Juventus in 2016.

Grealish, who has four years remaining on his Villa contract, scored six goals for Villa in last season's EPL and provided 10 assists.

His five appearances for England during their run to the Euro 2020 final underlined his quality at the highest level.

The Daily Mail reported that Villa, who finished 11th in last season's EPL, are hoping to beef up their squad to challenge for the top six.

Players who are reportedly on Dean Smith's shortlist include Norwich City's Todd Cantwell, Southampton's James Ward-Prowse and United's Axel Tuanzebe.

Yesterday, the Villans announced the £25m signing of Jamaican winger Leon Bailey from Bayer Leverkusen. The deal for the 23-year-old runs until 2025.

Grealish's ability to prise open defences will give Pep Guardiola another weapon as City look to defend the title.

Guardiola already has Grealish's England teammates Phil Foden and Raheem Sterling in creative attacking roles, with Kevin de Bruyne, Bernardo Silva and Riyad Mahrez giving the City manager an embarrassment of riches in the final third.

However, Grealish's impending move will raise doubts about Harry Kane's hopes of also joining City, who have so far refused to meet Tottenham Hotspur's £150m asking price for the striker.

Guardiola is keen on a striker to replace Sergio Aguero after City's record goalscorer joined Barcelona at the end of last season. - AFP, REUTERS

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