By Wayne Veysey

25th Jun, 2021 | 3:57pm

Sources: Aston Villa ready club-record bid for star keen to join as Grealish back-up revealed

Aston Villa will step up their pursuit of James Ward-Prowse if Jack Grealish quits in the coming weeks, Football Insider has learned.

Man City have a strong interest in the Villa talisman, 25, and Chelsea are also closely monitoring his situation.

Speculation intensified today that City are ready to bid £100m for Grealish to get an early-summer deal over the line.

A recruitment source has told Football Insider that Villa have long been prepared for the possibility of Grealish leaving.

That is partly why Emiliano Buendia was signed from Norwich City for a club-record fee and why Ward-Prowse has been targeted.

The Southampton captain is not seen as a direct replacement for Grealish, but Villa are keen on a deal and are prepared to submit a massive bid exceeding the Buendia sum to get it done.

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They may wait until things progress with Grealish before making a formal move for Ward-Prowse.

But, as revealed by Football Insider on Monday (21st June), the midfielder has been sounded out and is keen on moving to Villa Park.

The combined signings of Buendia, an attacking midfielder who can operate in tight spaces, and Ward-Prowse, a deep-lying playmaker, is seen as going some way to compensating for the loss of Grealish.

It will take a huge fee to lure the set-piece specialist from Southampton, where he has four years left to run on the contract he signed in August 2020.

But that would not be a problem for Villa if they sell Grealish in what could be the biggest transfer in the world this summer.

The Midlands giants have spent vast sums since billionaire duo Wes Edens and Naseef Sawiris bought the club two years ago.

In other news, Aston Villa have been tipped to sign free agent after senior star exit confirmed.