The news Aston Villa supporters have been dreading is now official: Jack Grealish has left their club. The England international has signed for Premier League champions Manchester City after a £100 million deal was concluded between the two clubs.
As Manchester City supporters celebrate their club-record new arrival, Villa fans will be left wondering how the loss of their talisman will impact their team going forward into the new season. Here, we analyse just how big a loss Grealish’s departure could turn out to be for the Midlands club.
Can Aston Villa Survive Without Their Talisman Jack Grealish?
Statistics Paint a Worrying Picture for Villa
When a local hero departs their boyhood club, their exit always tends to hit supporters harder than usual, and Grealish leaving Aston Villa has had the same effect on the club’s fans.
However, with the new Premier League season on the horizon, Villa boss Dean Smith will have already started planning for a future without the 25-year-old.
Those worried about how Villa will fare in the top-flight without their best player will point to the statistics to bear out their scepticism. Grealish missed 14 league games last season through injury, and the team’s win percentage plummeted to just over 21% in his absence. With Grealish in the side, that number leaped to over 54%, underlining his importance to the Villa cause.
Nevertheless, each new campaign in the Premier League brings its own unique twists and turns, and Smith will not expect the same trends to reappear next season when his side will be without Grealish for good.
For starters, this Villa side is becoming far less dependant on one player than it has been in recent years, and a pattern of collective improvement is clear for all to see. In 2019/20, the club avoided relegation on the final day of the season and retained its Premier League status. Nobody was more important in that effort than Grealish. Last season’s 11th-placed finish showcased the strides forward Villa have already made since. Their manager will expect that progress to continue despite the departure of one individual.
New Signings to Lessen the Burden
A further reason for optimism among the Villa fanbase that their club can keep progressing without its main man will come in the form of the new signings made so far this summer.
Dean Smith’s side appear to be among the teams in the Premier League that have recruited well so far. Exciting winger Emiliano Buendia showed glimpses of what he can do in the top-flight despite Norwich’s relegation in 2019/20. In the Championship last season, his form was electric.
The addition of 23-year-old forward Leon Bailey has also been seen as a major coup for the Midlands club. The Jamaica international was brilliant in the Bundesliga for former club Bayer Leverkusen and has been tipped to take the Premier League by storm.
The Villans have also acted quickly to bring in a player of Premier League pedigree in the form of striker Danny Ings, who was snapped up from Southampton after three excellent years on the south coast.
There is also the question of what Aston Villa will do with the vast sum of money they will receive from Grealish’s sale to Manchester City. If the club continues to invest wisely, they can sign two or three high-class new recruits to cover for the loss of Grealish in the here and now, as well as stand Villa in good stead to keep climbing the league table in future.
The sense of doom and gloom surrounding Villa Park after the exit of one of their own will not last forever. Big players have left this big club before and will do so again, such is the nature of the footballing business. This time, however, the shoots of recovery are already there.