There’s not a lot you can do when the big boys come knocking

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<span>Photograph: Mike Egerton/PA</span>
Photograph: Mike Egerton/PA

THE FOOTBALL FOOD CHAIN

It felt like England spent half the summer screaming for Jack Grealish. Now the sound coming from the north side of Birmingham is more like a plaintive wail. He’s almost certainly off to Manchester City for £100m, and Aston Villa are left to pine like a child robbed of their favourite toy. There’s not a lot you can do when the big boys come knocking, and Villa’s captain on Wednesday may well be City’s gleaming star attraction at the Charidee Shield on Saturday.

City, of course, have long been plucky little paupers so it’s heartwarming that they have finally allowed themselves something nice. “All clubs are struggling financially, we are not an exception,” grimaced Pep Guardiola a mere four weeks ago. “It is impossible, we cannot afford it,” he spluttered further, when asked specifically about signing Harry Kane. We’ll come to the latest in their chase for Spurs’ crown jewel. For all Pep’s protestations this appears to be the window where, if they hadn’t already taken the gloves off, City fling them down and stamp them into the dust: they’re after your favourite homegrown heroes, and they don’t mind how many hearts they break in the process.

Related: Jack Grealish poised to join Manchester City from Aston Villa in £100m deal

Exactly how a player of Grealish’s maverick gifts will fit into City’s structure, meticulously defined to the Nth degree, remains to be seen. Exactly how Villa replace him is a fascinating question too. They have snaffled the Bayer Leverkusen forward Leon Bailey with an eye on what’s coming their way, and tied down Emi Buendía earlier this summer while also making an ill-fated play for Emile Smith Rowe. Those reading the tea leaves suggest they’re after a couple more for their attacking ranks: it’s a tricky one given Grealish, while nominally coming in off the left, seemed to cover every blade of grass last season. A note to Dean Smith: you can only field 11 players at once.

Grealish’s move won’t go down well with everyone. But he’s given Villa nearly 20 years of his life and, shock horror, there’s a big old world out there. Anyone would fancy seeing what they’re capable of doing for the best team around – especially when other people seem to be of the same mind too. Yes, that means Kane, and at least Grealish has done Villa the service of refusing to down tools. Kane is expected to finally drop by Spurs’ training ground by the end of the week and talks with their hierarchy will commence: assuming impoverished City can struggle towards around £150m, the plan remains to find a way out.

Grealish, for his part, can point to a solid reason why Manchester might just be the making of him. Last month he was revealed to be an avid fan of Coronation Street, with suggestions afoot that the show would entertain offering him a cameo in the Rovers. It wouldn’t be the hardest commute, and perhaps Kane could be persuaded to pop along too given Corrie hasn’t had a loveable anti-hero Londoner since Mike Baldwin. The coming days and weeks in top-flight football, though, seem likely to present enough of a soap opera for now.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“How do I even say thank you for all this? Can I just pick it all up and take it home?” – Bukayo Saka returns to Arsenal training and visits a wall of thousands of supportive messages sent to him by fans after his missed penalty at Euro Not 2020 led to a depressingly inevitable torrent of online abuse.

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FIVER LETTER

“Re: yesterday’s Fiver letters. So, on a prizeless letter o’ the day day, Lord Lucan wins. Just wondering if he left contacting information for the award?” – Tim Smith.

Send your letters to the.boss@theguardian.com. And you can always tweet The Fiver via @guardian_sport. Today’s winner of our prizeless letter o’ the day is … Rollover.

NEWS, BITS AND BOBS

Bogotá has cancelled its reopening of stadiums after the first Colombian domestic match with a crowd in 513 days – Santa Fé v Atlético Nacional – was marred by violence in the stands and on the pitch, with three fans and four police officers hospitalised.

Trouble and a flailing crutch inside the ground.
Trouble and a flailing crutch inside the ground. Photograph: Daniel Garzon/AFP/Getty Images

Christian Eriksen has returned to Inter’s training ground for the first time since suffering a cardiac arrest with Denmark.

Brighton have been charged by the FA over “several breaches” of its Mr 15% regulations.

Louis van Gaal is settling into the Netherlands hot seat for a 1,739th time. “I consider it an honour!” whooped the 69-year-old.

James Maddison has batted his eyelashes in Arsenal’s direction after hearing the Gunners like the cut of his jib.

Chelsea’s pursuit of Sevilla’s Jules Koundé has stalled after being unable to persuade Kurt Zouma to empty his locker and join West Ham.

Sampdoria president and Roma fan Massimo Ferrero says he’d happily sell them Danish winger Mikkel Damsgaard. “[He] is the midfielder Roma needs. If they call me, we will reach an agreement,” parped Ferrero. “I want him to join Roma and Damsgaard would be a great signing.”

And James Carragher, son of Jamie, has signed his first pro contract at Wigan. “Well done son. Very proud of you,” his dad tweeted. Cheaper than a phone call, to be fair.

STILL WANT MORE?

Our latest pre-season previews shine the spotlight on Burnley, about whom Will Unwin frets about a lack of depth, and Chelsea, with Jacob Steinberg speculating on whether they have enough up front to land the title.

Ben Fisher’s Championship preview has cheery things to say for fans of the relegated clubs and Bournemouth and Middlesbrough, and gloomier prognoses for your Readings, your Blackeye Rovers and your Wayne Rooney’s Derbys.

Manchester City and Chelsea should stop obsessing over their pursuits of Harry Kane and Romelu Lukaku, and get a load of Danny Ings, reckons Josh Wright.

Catch up with the latest moves in our women’s and men’s transfer interactives.

And sign up for a daily Big Sports Day email here. It’s not particularly funny but, hey, glass houses and all that.

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THE MAGICAL WARNOCK BUMBAG

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