Jack Grealish will be worth around £80 million ($98m) in the next transfer window, says Darren Bent, with the Aston Villa playmaker considered to have enjoyed a better season than Harry Maguire – who Manchester United signed for £85m ($104m) in 2019.
The Red Devils are said to be piecing together plans for another big-money raid 12 months on from making the England international centre-half the most expensive defender on the planet.
A return to the Midlands could be made as, after luring Maguire away from Leicester, Villa midfielder Grealish has become a top target for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as he seeks to bring extra creativity into Old Trafford.
Any deal for the talented 24-year-old will not come cheap, given what he has achieved in the Premier League during the 2019-20 campaign and his future potential, but United do have money to spend.
Bent believes they will have to dig deep in order to get the players they want, but feels a bar has been set by previous business and that no argument can be offered against hefty asking prices.
The former Villans striker told Football Insider: “Listen, Harry Maguire went for £85m, a world record fee, so you look at Jack Grealish and you’d have to say Jack Grealish has had a better season than Harry Maguire.
“He’s been absolutely brilliant, he’s carried Aston Villa, I’m sure if it wasn’t for him, Aston Villa would have been relegated ages ago if it hadn’t been for Jack Grealish carrying the team.
“£80m sounds about right, I don’t think that’s too expensive and I don’t think that will put off anybody.”
Bent is not the only ex-Villa star to have suggested that Grealish is now destined to move on.
Joleon Lescott is another who believes that a side battling to beat the drop should make it easy for a prized asset to land the transfer he deserves.
The former England international defender told The Beautiful Game Podcast: “(It would be wrong) to ridicule him now for leaving when he’s on the cusp of becoming a top player.
“He’s shown that he can perform in a team that doesn’t play to his strengths, so going to a team that does can only enhance his reputation.
“I think he has to leave. It’s going to be difficult now with the current scenario.
“I think if the season had finished normally he definitely would have left. There’d have been too much interest for him not to leave.
“Aston Villa should make that decision as easy as possible for him. It shouldn’t be done last minute where he potentially has to put in a transfer request. It should be: ‘This is what we want, give us this and you can have him.’
“Let him leave clean and leave his reputation intact so everybody knows, ‘Yeah, he did what he did for us, now go and do it for someone else’.”