Saturday 15 December 2018

Grealish among key figures as clock ticks on clubs looking to splash cash

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho. Photo: Andrew Innerarity
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho. Photo: Andrew Innerarity

Sam Wallace

NASSEF SAWIRIS: Billionaire newcomer

The new Aston Villa co-owner has stabilised a club that looked in serious trouble with cash converted into equity.

A billionaire, he could potentially be a serious player in English football, along with fellow new co-owner Wes Edens, an American NBA franchise owner, and it will be intriguing to see how they approach the long-term squad-building process in such a fraught market.

In the short-term, they will have to make a decision over Jack Grealish but given their initial investment neither will feel the club have to sell.

Default setting: Unknown, but 'roll of the dice' strategy of now minority stake owner Tony Xia, as described by his former finance director, should not be necessary

Strategy: Replacing Grealish will be difficult - so why sell?

Marina Granovskaia. Photo: Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images
Marina Granovskaia. Photo: Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

DANIEL LEVY: Last-minute dealmaker

Loves transfer deadline day more than Sky Sports, and sees it as one of the negotiating tools at his disposal. Nevertheless, he has left it extraordinarily late even by his standards, with not a single player yet signed.

Strangely it was Levy who was one of the league's leading advocates of shutting the window early, a decision that increasingly looks a mistake. Mauricio Pochettino finished last season warning that Tottenham needed to be bold in order to move forward.

Default setting: Likes to offer late and low with back-up options aplenty.

Strategy: More of the same - but will it be enough to get Wilfried Zaha or Grealish?

JACK GREALISH: Rising star

Once wanted so badly by Ireland and by England, the Championship years have given Grealish room to develop and now, at 22, he looks like delivering on the promise that shone in that FA Cup semi-final against Liverpool three years ago.

When Aston Villa were collapsing in the summer, a move looked inevitable but the new owners are serious and it remains to be seen how hard Grealish will be prepared to push to leave.

Default setting: Boy-band hairstyle, and socks at half-mast to showcase the Tour de France calves - is he ready to be a smaller fish in a big pond?

Strategy: Will have to tell new owner he wants to leave if he is to have any chance of Champions League football at Spurs.

MIKE ASHLEY: Belligerent owner

Existing in a permanent state of conflict is Ashley's way at Newcastle United and even with a manager as accomplished as Rafael Benitez it has been no different.

The signing of Salomon Rondon should ease matters and there may yet be a deal for Danny Ings. Newcastle have made five signings already and also traded players out. However, results in pre-season have been poor and Benitez has not been slow to voice his worries. Rows over bonuses represent the usual unnecessary distraction.

Default setting: He expects his managers to get on with it, although there is the occasional emergency spend to ease relegation fears

Strategy: Let Lee Charnley, his managing director, sort it out. Ignore all criticism.

JOSE MOURINHO: Angry manager

Mourinho sets the mood at Manchester United and the current mood is dismal. The centre-back situation seems to get ever more acute, with Harry Maguire out of reach and Yerry Mina a big deal to complete in time remaining.

That is before one even gets to the other positions Mourinho wants to strengthen. The task of catching Manchester City is huge and has to be relished rather than resented.

Default setting: Extreme grumpiness - bordering on the pathological - while name-checking executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward and transfer negotiator Matt Judge.

Strategy: Sullenly backing down, while doggedly reserving the right to blame others.

YERRY MINA: Summer's must-have

Clubs like to say that players no longer get signed on the back of a good World Cup but this Colombian defender has shown that you can still shift perceptions significantly by having a decent tournament.

Out of contention at Barcelona, he now emerges as the man who could potentially break the Mourinho-Woodward relationship at United.

On the basis of four tournament games, he looks a decent fit for English football, although one hopes the due diligence goes a little further.

Default setting: Defensive corners, attacking corners, set-pieces and towering downward headers that bounce over full-backs' heads

Strategy: The latest suggestion is that his agent's demands are spiralling - it would be a waste if that crashed the deal.

MARINA GRANOVSKAIA: Tough negotiator

Very few English clubs of the last decade have stood up to Real Madrid when they have come for the Premier League's best players but Chelsea's key director knows that the European champions do not have the money to pay a massive fee for Eden Hazard up front.

If they buy Thibaut Courtois then that will certainly empty Madrid's funds and already the Spanish media are pondering whether the stars of the club's post-Cristiano Ronaldo era will have to come from among their existing squad.

If Granovskaia can persuade Hazard to sign a new contract, the issue is closed.

Default setting: Roman Abramovich's closest aide is the new breed of football executive, and less willing to accept that Madrid always get their man

Strategy: Why should we let them pay in instalments for our best player?

CHRISTOPHE HENROTAY: Agent taking on Chelsea

The agent of Courtois, and also formerly Romelu Lukaku who left Henrotay for Mino Raiola in pursuit of his big move to United.

Henrotay is under pressure to make the move to Madrid happen for his biggest client Courtois, whose children live in Madrid where he played for Atletico.

Henrotay pushed hard this weekend, saying that Chelsea should do the deal - which is not the kind of unsolicited advice that big clubs appreciate.

Default setting: Bold, but risky: he recently said that Courtois has been "reasonable" and that "there is an offer in place for Chelsea to accept".

Strategy: He has lit the fuse now - there is no point backing down. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Who is your sportstar of the year?

Vote in the Irish Independent Sport Star Awards and you could win the ultimate sports prize.

Prizes include, a trip to Old Trafford to watch Man United take on Liverpool in the Premier League, tickets to Ireland's home games in the Six Nations, All Ireland football and hurling final tickets and much more.

Simply click here to register your vote

Telegraph.co.uk

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport