Why Man Utd played a blinder in signing Sancho over Man City's Grealish

Robin Bairner
Is Jack Grealish worth £100 million to Manchester City or Manchester United?

Manchester United’s decision to chase Jadon Sancho in the transfer market instead of Jack Grealish was a masterstroke.

A club often derided for not being willing to stump up the required fees for top players, Man Utd have played a blinder so far this summer with the capture of Sancho from Borussia Dortmund and the forthcoming signing of Raphael Varane from Real Madrid.

The England winger arrived at the club for significantly under FootballTransfers’ valuation of him, while Varane is set to join from Real Madrid at a similarly attractive price.

Not only have Man Utd added to important members to their squad, they have done so without overpaying.

That's in direct contrast to Grealish, who has just been announced as a new Manchester City player after securing a €117m (£100m) from Aston Villa. It is a move that has smashed the previous Premier League transfer record, set when Man Utd sealed a deal for Paul Pogba in 2016.

Is Jack Grealish worth £100m?

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Grealish, by FootballTransfers’ valuation algorithm, is only the 12th most valuable English player presently, coming in at €48.5m – or the same as Mason Greenwood. Meanwhile, Sancho, James Maddison and Mason Mount are among those rated higher than him, and so too are his new team-mates Raheem Sterling, who is the man likely to make way for him, and Phil Foden, the most valuable Englishman on this matrix.

What is remarkable about Man City’s move is just how much they have been willing to overpay to secure him. Indeed, they have paid almost two-and-a-half times what Grealish is deemed to be worth.

Why Man City can overpay for Grealish

Man City target Jack Grealish playing in the Premier League for Aston Villa

City, of course, are operating with different objectives to their city rivals in mind.

Man Utd are owned by an investment group whose primary goal of owning the club is profit.

Meanwhile, Man City’s Abu Dhabi owners are seeking to increase the soft power of the UAE around the world. Money is not an objective for City, the Champions League title is. If they want to sign a player, they can go out and do so at almost any price tag they wish.

Grealish, to them, was seen as a valuable tool to unpicking tight-knitted defence, the type of which their passing game can sometimes struggle to unlock. His ability to beat players and win fouls around the box, then, has been seen as priceless.

That is reflected in the fee that Man City have paid Aston Villa for Grealish – a value that Man Utd and their differing objectives simply could not justify.