There is no doubt the summer transfer window could be very exciting for Manchester United. There is a lot of incredible young talent in the English Premier League and two of the most exciting, Jack Grealish from Aston Villa and James Maddison from Leicester City, have been repeatedly linked with a move to Old Trafford.
Given the similarities in age and style of play between the two players, it stands to reason that United could only land one of these rising stars, and not both. It is difficult to decide with one would fit United the best though. Here is a side by side comparison so you can decide for yourselves.
The 24-year-old Grealish has been a product of Aston Villa since he joined the team’s U18 squad in 2012. The versatile attacking midfielder and occasional winger is one of the most fouled players in the Premier League because of his aggressive style of play — something that United desperately need from a midfielder.
He is no doubt the catalyst of the Aston Villa offense and through 24 EPL matches, he has seven goals and six assists. Compare that to our leading scorer in the midfield, Dan James, with three goals and you can see how much of an impact he would make paired up with the likes of Bruno Fernandes, Scott McTominay and (in theory) Paul Pogba.
Aston Villa, marred in a relegation battle, was able to thwart off a January transfer from United and other interested teams but recently it has been reported that Grealish has told friends that he would love to join Manchester United in the summer.
It is estimated that he would command around a £45 million transfer fee to leave Villa and that will be a lot lower than other reported United transfer targets, James Maddison and Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund.
Grealish is under contract until 2023 so Villa have the upper hand here but Greaslish is desperate for a call up from Gareth Southgate to play for England, something that a move to a high-profile club like Manchester United might help speed up.
Naturally, Villa and manager Dean Smith do not want someone of Grealish’s caliber to leave. Recently in an interview, Smith laid a very ambitious plan to keep Grealish despite the rumors:
“We’ve got two magnificent owners who want this club to be successful. They have got an awful lot of money which they’ve earned through their hard work in their businesses.
“They know that if you want to be a successful team you have to keep your best players. They will be working very hard to make sure our best players stop at this football club. That’s the best answer I can give about Jack.”
If Villa gets relegated, it might be next to impossible to keep Grealish.
Maddison, 23, is one year younger than Grealish and is on pace to pass his goal total from last season. Through 25 EPL matches, Maddison has six goals and had seven all last year with Leicester City. His assists are down from last year (at this point) at three, but with plenty of games left this year, he will likely get close to last year’s total of seven sooner rather than later.
Like Grealish, Maddison is an attacking midfielder that has no problem popping out to the wing if needed. Although he isn’t as aggressive as Grealish, he has no problem pushing forward from the midfield role.
Maddison is 18th in the league with shots attempted at 58 so he isn’t afraid to shoot. Grealish is close in 21st place with 54 shots. One reason Maddison doesn’t have as many goals as Grealish is because of the career year play of teammate Jamie Vardy, who leads the Premier League with 17.
United were targeting Maddison during the winter transfer period but Foxes boss Brendan Rodgers was adamant that Maddison wasn’t leaving, even as he admitted the boyhood United fan (and friend of United captain Harry Maguire) might be keen for an Old Trafford move to boost his international career as well.
Maddison has one career cap for England but fellow national teammates Marcus Rashford, Jesse Lingard, and Harry Maguire might be able to sway Maddison away.
It was reported earlier that Maddison is close to signing as big-money contract with Leicester, but sources close to Maddison say he could wait until the end of the season before deciding on his future.
Playing in the Champions League is always a huge draw for players and at this point, Maddison’s chances of playing in Europe are better with third-placed Leicester. So a move to Manchester United would have to be for money and to fulfill a childhood dream.
Take your pick
Since both of these players will command a large transfer fee and subsequent contract, a lot is dependent on what Paul Pogba does in the summer. If you believe the rumors, Pogba is set for a high profile summer move back to Juventus or Real Madrid.
It will be interesting for sure to see how this plays out throughout the summer. Personally, you can’t beat Jack Grealish, his monster calves and rockstar hair, and “cheaper” price. With Villa’s situation of possible relegation, it just makes sense for him at United.