Manchester United have been heavily linked with a move for Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish and have reportedly made him their top summer target but they will need Champions League football to seal the deal.
The 24-year-old has been highly thought of at top Premier League clubs for a while after breaking into the Villa first team and starring in their 2015 run to the FA Cup final.
However, Villa’s subsequent relegation and three year stay in the Championship have contributed to no side making a serious bid to prise him away from his boyhood club.
Now, with both Villa and Grealish back in the top flight and the midfielder proving his worth up against some of the best in the world, the Sun are reporting that he is number one on United’s summer wishlist.
The report states that the Red Devils have prioritised the signing of Grealish ahead of Leicester City star James Maddison, who has also been heavily linked with a switch to Old Trafford.
Maddison is reportedly close to agreeing a new deal at the King Power and, with the Foxes currently on course to secure Champions League football, it will be difficult to tempt the England international away from the East Midlands.
With Villa currently embroiled in a relegation dogfight, Grealish is widely expected to leave Villa Park in the summer, regardless of the club’s Premier League status.
On the cusp of an England call-up and potentially earning a spot in the Euro 2020 squad, the 24-year-old seems destined for a move away from the club he joined as a six-year-old.
United’s interest will certainly be tempting, given the club’s status and manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s focus on young, hungry English talent, but they are not the only suitor vying for Grealish’s signature.
Real Madrid and Barcelona are also said to have joined the race and if one of those clubs does come in for the midfielder, United could find themselves outgunned.
Villa could demand up to £60m for their prize asset and the lure of Champions League football will prove hard to turn down.
As a result, United will be desperate to finish in the top four or win the Europa League to retain their pulling power in the market.