Aston Villa have been impressive in the transfer market this season but the best thing they have done is tie “elite artist” Jack Grealish down to a new deal.
That is according to finance expert and new Football Insider columnist Kieran Maguire, speaking exclusively after the 25-year-old captained Villa to a 1-0 win over Arsenal on Saturday.
Villa took advantage of the fire-sale situation in French football to sign Morgan Sanson from Marseille for a cut-price £14million fee in January.
In the summer, they brought in Ross Barkley on loan as well as Ollie Watkins, Bertrand Traore, Emi Martinez and Matty Cash on permanent deals — all of whom have impressed in Villa colours.
Maguire was quick to praise Dean Smith’s recruits but said that getting Grealish to sign a new five-year contract in September has been the most significant development at the club this season.
He told Football Insider correspondent Adam Williams: “It’s a case of getting their business right. Ollie Watkins has been a fantastic signing, Martinez has been a fantastic signing.
“But the best thing they’ve done was to get Grealish to sign a contract extension.
“He’s one of those players whose feet don’t touch the turf. He glides.
“He’s an example of how footballers are elite artists as well as athletes.
“From an ambition and a morale-boosting point of view, getting him tied down to a new deal is by far the best thing they’ve done this season.”
Bar a one-season loan spell with Notts County in 2013-14, Grealish has been an Aston Villa player throughout his entire career.
He made his debut in 2012 and has since gone on to make 208 appearances, score 32 goals and register 43 assists for the club.