Tottenham Hotspur got back to winning ways before the international break, seeing off Aston Villa to move back into top-six contention but they can count their lucky stars that a former target wasn’t available to haunt them.
That, of course, being Jack Grealish.
The England sensation has emerged as one of the best players in the Premier League right now, though it could’ve been an all too different story had Spurs secured his signature nearly three years ago.
According to The Sun, Lilywhites chairman Daniel Levy had an opportunity to sign the attacker for just £6m as Villa, then cash-strapped fighting the prospect of administration and in the Championship, were willing to sell him to garner some desperate funds.
This is where the tough-negotiator let his greatest strength quickly become Spurs’ greatest mistake in recent times. Levy believed he could secure Grealish for £1m to £2m cheaper, so he boarded the plane for the club’s pre-season trip to Los Angeles mulling over the move.
By the time he landed, Villa had been sold to billionaires Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens, who quickly slapped an asking price of £40m on his head.
That has turned out to be a ghastly error, with the 25-year-old dynamo a shoo-in to feature for England at the summer’s European Championship on home soil.
Despite Villa battling relegation last season, Grealish still created the second-highest number of chances (91) in the Premier League. He was only second to Man City superstar Kevin De Bruyne (136) and ahead of the likes of Trent Alexander-Arnold (87), Willian (76) and Mo Salah (61). No Spurs player made the top ten, as per Squawka.
He has continued this fine form, ranking as the Premier League’s second-best player (7.73) as per WhoScored ratings, behind Harry Kane (7.78). Grealish has the same number of assists as Bruno Fernandes (ten) and only sits behind Kane and De Bruyne for that aspect, too.
Ahead of the January transfer window at the start of the year, the Midlands outfit quite rightly slapped a £100m price tag on his signature, as per the reliable Matt Law at the Telegraph, which would make him the most expensive British player of all time if anyone wants to pay it.
That number will surely only be rising as the season rumbles on, especially with him due back from injury after the break.
Comparisons to former Spurs great Paul Gascoigne and many a glowing endorsement ranging from being dubbed a “monster” by Joe Cole to being lauded “absolutely outstanding” by England boss Gareth Southgate, will only have Levy even more gutted, and perhaps even a little bitter.
Whether Grealish would’ve had this rise if he joined Spurs in 2018 remains to be seen, but it certainly seems to be the case that the north Londoners missed out big time.
They will surely forever regret that ghastly call from Levy.