Aston Villa are set to tie down Manchester United and Chelsea target Jack Grealish to a new contract after the attacking midfielder withdrew from international duty with the Ireland Under-21 squad to finalise negotiations.
The 19-year-old, who is widely considered the best young player at Villa Park, has been linked with a move away from the West Midlands outfit over recent weeks.
But the likes of United and Chelsea are set to be left disappointed with Grealish poised to pen-to-paper on his new deal with Paul Lambert’s side.
Noel King reveals Grealish has returned to Villa
Ireland Under-21 boss Noel King revealed that the teenager has withdrawn from his squad, but insists he understands the reasons behind Grealish’s decision to return to Villa Park.
“The facts are that he is in contractual talks with Aston Villa and they have reached an important stage,” he is quoted as saying by the Daily Star. “His deal is up at the end of the year and his future is of paramount importance to him. So you can see why they would want to sort that matter out.”
“I accept Jack’s reasons for withdrawing and understand it. I have no issue with it.”
Contract talks stalled last month
Reports last month revealed that contractual talks between Aston Villa and Grealish had stalled. The youngster was offered a £5,000-a-week deal from his current employers, but it’s not clear whether negotiations are closer to being resolves because of an increase in the overall salary.
First-team opportunities may also have been a factor behind the player’s reluctance to sign the new deal last month, but Lambert has made a concerted effort to use him over the last few weeks.
Grealish played 45 minutes in the 3-0 defeat to Arsenal last month, and was brought on for the final 20 minutes of Villa’s 2-0 loss to Premier League champions Manchester City last Saturday.
He also played the full 90 minutes in the Capital One Cup second round match against Leyton Orient on August 27, although the hosts slumped to a surprise 1-0 defeat at Villa Park.
Roy Keane a big fan
Aston Villa assistant manager Roy Keane, who has hit the headlines following the release of his new autobiography in recent days, is certainly a big fan of the youngster and hopes he nails his colours to Ireland rather than England in the near future.
Grealish was born in Birmingham, but has represented that Republic of Ireland at U17s, U18s and U21s.
And, providing he continues developing at his current rate, it shouldn’t be too much longer before Martin O’Neill hands him his first senior call-up for the Ireland national team.