Aston Villa exposed secret meeting involving Manchester United agent & Jack Grealish

Aston Villa, Claret & Blue podcast - Jack Grealish was continually courted by a host of big-name clubs and, for the first time, former boss Alex McLeish details a dinner between an agent attempting to lure Grealish to Old Trafford back in 2012


Manchester United's interest in Jack Grealish stems almost a decade, with one-time Aston Villa boss Alex McLeish revealing how the Red Devils attempted to schmooze the star from Solihull over a slap-up dinner.

Grealish was just 16 when he was promoted to first-team training sessions and, within weeks, made McLeish's match-day 18 for the first time against Chelsea in March 2012 amid strong interest from clubs attempting to lure him away.

Now 24 and very much star of the show at Villa Park, Grealish once again sees himself linked with a move to Manchester United. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is a long-time admirer and, according to our colleagues at Manchester Evening News , the Norwegian will submit a hefty bid when the summer transfer window reopens.

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Stern interest in Villa's prized asset has forced the club's hierarchy to reportedly stick an £80million price tag on Grealish's head in a bid to warn off potential suitors. The skipper, though, firmly remains not-for-sale.

However, things could have been so different had McLeish and Villa's academy director not intervened when Grealish and his parents met with an agent proposing a move to Old Trafford on the cheap.

Speaking exclusively to our Claret & Blue podcast, ex-boss McLeish said: "At that moment we felt people were getting in contact with him to leave Villa. That was one of the main reasons to get him involved with us (in the first team).

"He would have been on the bench anyway because of the casualties we had. He was the best youngster coming through.
Alex McLeish, new manager of Aston Villa, takes his first training session with coach Gordon Cowans in 2011. (Image: Diensen Pamben /

"When we played Man United we heard he was in a restaurant being courted by one of the agents to try and get him to Man United.

"We were a bit alarmed about that so we fought well to keep him. We knew he loved Villa, his old man as well. We had them in speaking to them. They're lovely people.

"They asked for something and the club went it's too much but, finally, you come to an agreement and everybody's happy. Jack stayed at Aston Villa, which is great to see one of the great players of Villa nowadays staying with his boyhood club.

McLeish was reminded how that move back in 2012 to tie Grealish down could well have safeguarded at least £50million for Villa, to which he replied: "There's no doubt about that. It wasn't all down to me. Bryan (Jones), at the academy, was instrumental and a lot of thanks has to go to him."

The Scot's controversial tenure at Villa Park lasted just one season but, even nine years ago, McLeish witnessed a fearless teenage Grealish stick it to the likes of Stiliyan Petrov and co in training.

"I went to a lot of the academy games," McLeish added. "Even on the day of (Premier League) games, the (academy) boys were playing on the side of training ground.

"I'd see Jack with his famous socks down his legs! He had that swagger. Watching him as a kid on the field ghosting past people with the ball at his feet. You could see all day long he was going to be a star, no doubt about it, which is why we thought we'd have to pretty well keep him at Villa.

"When Jack came in I saw that, while he wasn't a big shouter, he was a boy who was willing to take the ball in any part of the pitch. The guy I likened him to at the time was Barry Ferguson. He could have played in any stadium in the world and Barry was fearless in taking the ball, saying: 'Just gimme the ball, just gimme the ball!'.

"You see that kind of thing in Jack. He's come on leaps and bounds. Not like he was ever not going to do that but, hopefully, he'll go onto play for England... but not against Scotland!"

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