Jack Grealish continues to spark talk of interest from Manchester United but, on the back of Aston Villa preserving their Premier League status, Dean Smith has jokingly claimed to have tied the talented playmaker down on a new contract “written in sambuca”.
The Villans partied hard after beating the drop on the final day of the 2019-20 season.
Grealish’s goal in the 1-1 draw away at West Ham proved to be decisive, as Smith’s side wrapped up a 17th-place finish with one point separating them from the drop zone.
While the West Midlands outfit intend to revel in earning another campaign among the elite, the opening of another transfer window is set to present them with an altogether different challenge.
Retaining the services of talismanic club captain Grealish promises to be difficult, with many suggesting that he is ready for a step up in class, but Smith is doing all he can to convince a fellow boyhood Villa fan to stay put.
He told talkSPORT of those efforts, which began during the celebrations on Sunday night to mark staying up: “I gave him a few shots last night and got him to sign a new five-year contract. It’s not been done yet, it was written in Sambuca, I’m not sure if it was mine or his!
“It was a heavy night, I’m not sure what time I got to bed, but I slept in my office back at the training ground. I did an Eddie Jones and slipped off so the lads didn’t see me go!
“Seriously, that’s a chat for another day. Jack’s a wonderful lad and I’ve got all the time in the world for him and I’m so pleased that he scored the goal that kept us in the Premier League.”
Smith is delighted to have seen Grealish and co deliver for Villa during their first season back in the big time and makes no apologies for having toasted finishing one place above the trapdoor.
Roy Keane, who once spent time as the club’s assistant manager, suggested on Sky Sports that Villa’s reaction was “slightly over the top” as they “hadn’t won anything”.
Smith has shrugged off those comments, saying: “Listen, with all the emotions, the lads were right to go and celebrate.
“We’d been written off 10 games ago, we were relegated in everybody’s minds. So to do what we’ve done and turn it around as we have, that was a celebration, that’s for sure.”