By Matt Farr
Aston Villa are preparing a stunning new offer to push through the signing of Middlesbrough hitman Jordan Rhodes this month, according to a report.
The Mirror claim that Villa are ready to offer Jack Grealish to Middlesbrough as part of sensational player-plus-cash deal to finally land Rhodes, with Steve Bruce desperate to ladd more firepower in attack.
The Midlands club’s pursuit of the striker appeared to have hit a dead-end after seeing their latest £6million bid rejected by Middlesbrough last week.
The Premier League side are believed to be looking to recoup what they paid for him a year ago, having splashed out a fee in the region of £10million for his services.
There was a major twist on Friday after the Daily Mail suggested that Boro were interested in signing Grealish and the Mirror now state that Bruce is considering using the £20million-rated attacking midfielder to sweeten the deal.
It would enable Villa to comply with financial fair play rules although may not go down well with fans given Grealish’s talismanic status as a boyhood fan and product of the club’s academy.
The Midlands outfit have struggled for goals this season, with all but four Championship sides having found more success in front of goal than Villa since the start of the campaign.
Villa’s top-goalscorer Jonathan Kodjia has been absent at the Africa Cup of Nations with Ivory Coast, but is now available for selection again following their elimination from the tournament.
But with Gabriel Agbonlahor’s ongoing goal-drought, dating back to the Premier League victory over Norwich almost a year ago, coupled with Ross McCormack’s recent exile, Bruce still has problems.
However, their new reported plan has already caused great concern among fans, with many supporters having urged the club not to part with Grealish, 21, under any circumstances.
Middlesbrough are preparing for life without winger Gaston Ramirez, after the Uruguay international handed in a transfer request on Wednesday. With Ramirez drawing interest from Leicester, Grealish is their number one target.
Football Insider verdict
The Aston Villa fans may be delighted at the prospect of landing a new hitman to their ranks this month, but they would rather they did not sacrifice Jack Grealish as part of the deal. Villa are desperate to add a goalscorer and Jordan Rhodes would be a fantastic signing for them given his history in the lower leagues, but this new approach is not the answer. The last thing they want is for the fans, who dedicate so much time week-in, week-out to supporting their team to protest against this deal. They watched helplessly as Villa were relegated from the Premier League last season, and have waited patiently this season with the club currently 13th in the second-tier. Selling Grealish would be a huge error of judgement by the club, even if they have just added three new midfield reinforcements. There are still ways to land Jordan Rhodes – or another striker for that matter – this month, and this should not be one of them.
In other Aston Villa transfer news, Keith Wyness has delivered an update on the club’s transfer activity, as the winter window nears its climax.