Man City are considering whether to offer £100m signing Jack Grealish in exchange for an Arsenal attacker, though the blockbuster swap could only take place if a highly-anticipated deal falls through, per reports.
Cases of high profile Man City signings taking a season or two to adapt to Pep Guardiola’s intricate system are common.
Joao Cancelo, Nathan Ake, Rodri and Bernardo Silva are prime examples of that notion. Only a select few of the truly elite – such as Kevin de Bruyne and Erling Haaland – have fitted in seamlessly from day one.
Jack Grealish underwhelmed in his first season at the Etihad following his British-record move. He’s fared little better this term, with his first 18 months at the club returning just seven goals and seven assists.
There are signs he’s beginning to get to grips with Guardiola’s demands. Indeed, Grealish bagged the decisive assist for the game’s only goal when City beat Chelsea 1-0 in the league last Thursday.
However, writing for GiveMeSport, transfer specialist, Dean Jones, has claimed City are exploring their options with Grealish as they strive to keep evolving under Pep.
Jones prefaced his comments by stressing it’s early days, though claimed Grealish could be used as bait to lure one of two superstar forwards to Manchester.
The headline name mentioned – at least from a Premier League perspective – is Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka.
Grealish for Saka? Only if Arsenal talks break down
“This one still needs to fully unfold as Grealish is working hard to make sure this £100million City move works out – but it’s worth being aware that the club have a constant eye out for ways to keep evolving,” wrote transfer insider Dean Jones.
“Rafael Leao is a player they like but so too is Bukayo Saka. Neither are attainable in this moment but that may change later in the year, depending on contract talks.
“One idea being mooted is that Grealish could even end up going in the opposite direction to either of those players.
“Again, this is early days and not active right now, but if we are on the lookout for surprising deals – this would be right up there.”
The contract talks Jones referenced relate to Saka’s long-awaited extension at the Emirates.
Saka’s current deal expires in the summer of 2024 and understandably, the Gunners are keen to put a new deal in place.
Saka reportedly earns just £30,000-a-week at present – a figure far below his true worth in football terms.
A new contract that could see Saka increase his salary by more than six times to around £200,000-a-week has speculated dating all the way back to November. However, two months on and pen hasn’t yet been put to paper.
There’s no indication there’s an issue between Saka and Arsenal. However, in the event the Gunners talisman does decide to explore other options, it sounds like Man City will be attentive.
Saka is arguably Arsenal’s best player already despite being just 21. However he could be seen as the long-term successor to Riyad Mahrez on Pep’s right wing.
A front three of Phil Foden, Erling Haaland and Saka would be near-impossible to stop. What’s more, the trio are all aged 22 or under and Man City’s forward line would be secured for the better part of the next decade.
Arsenal have taken a giant leap forward this season and are a genuine threat to Man City’s domestic dominance.
Only Liverpool have prevented City from winning the league over the last five years, but seeing Saka switch sides would simultaneously weaken the Gunners and strengthen City’s grip on English football for the foreseeable future.
For Arsenal’s sake – as well as all of City’s rivals – hopes will be high Saka does commit his long-term future at the Emirates.
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