By Matt Farr
Former Aston Villa midfielder George Boateng has urged Jack Grealish to seriously consider a move to Middlesbrough.
The Daily Mail claim that the Premier League club have lined-up the 21-year-old as a replacement for wantaway midfielder Gaston Ramirez, and Boateng insists that Grealish should welcome the interest.
Boateng enjoyed spells at both Villa and Middlesbrough during his 19-year long playing career, and has fond memories of the lifestyle at the Riverside Stadium.
He admitted that Middlesbrough have the perfect environment for Grealish to develop, and redevelop his image.
He told TalkSport: “He’s a fantastic young player and it would bad for Villa to lose him.
“But I have played for both clubs and I have been in both locations and, for a player like Jack, it would be a fantastic move in terms of his personal lifestyle because there’s not a lot to do there. You can’t go wrong – it’s no Las Vegas!
“The point I’m making is that for Jack Grealish it would be a really good environment to join a club like Middlesbrough because the area would suit him. He needs to get his head down, concentrate on his game and just play football. I think the environment at Middlesbrough would give him that.”
Grealish has endured a turbulent career at Villa Park, faced with ongoing controversies on-and-off the field since making his first-team debut at the end of the 2013-14 season.
Although his behaviour has improved this season, manager Steve Bruce may be forced to cash-in on the player to stay in line with Financial Fair play regulations.
The club have made several new additions to the squad this month, including midfield trio Conor Hourihane, Henri Lansbury and Birkir Bjarnason, and the sale of Grealish would certainly balance the books.
The fans, though, would need some convincing before the club decides to let one of their most highly-rated players leave.
Many groups of supporters have already urged the Villa chiefs to snub all interest in his services, and do everything they can to ensure he remains at the club.
In other Aston Villa transfer news, this Villa player could still end up leaving the club even after the transfer window closes.