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Will Aston Villa’s summer additions make up for the loss of Jack Grealish?

It’s looking all but certain that Jack Grealish will complete a move to Manchester City before the new Premier League campaign gets underway later this month. City established themselves as favorites on sites like Betdaq to acquire Grealish’s signature, and it’s understood that manager Pep Guardiola is a massive fan of the 25-year-old.

Of course, the whole situation leaves Aston Villa in an interesting spot. With a fee of around £100 million coming their way, there is scope to improve the team and really challenge for European qualification. They have already acted this summer by bringing in Ashley Young, Emiliano Buendía, Leon Bailey, and Danny Ings, but given Grealish’s creative influence on the team, it’s not guaranteed that those new signings will make up for their talisman’s departure.

Buendía is the player who is most comparable to Grealish in terms of playing style, but it’s fair to say that the former Norwich City midfielder is not quite in the same mold in terms of Grealish’s dynamism. Buendía is generally deployed in a slightly deeper role, picking passes from midfield and acting as a deep-lying playmaker. However, there will certainly be pressure on the Argentinian to provide a creative spark in Grealish’s likely absence.

In the case of Ings, it was a transfer that few saw coming, with Villa doing well to keep negotiations under wraps. The striker had made clear his intentions not to renew his contract at Southampton, and so Villa swopped to secure the services of a player with a great goalscoring record in the Premier League of late. Ings will provide reliable goals, and his arrival could mean Ollie Watkins is pushed into a wider area, which might not be a bad thing given that the former Brentford man is just as adept at creating opportunities as he is finishing them off.

Leon Bailey is also a hugely exciting addition in terms of chance creation. Arriving from Bayer Leverkusen, Bailey has been admired for a while as one of the Bundesliga’s most exciting players, and Villa has done well to get their hands on him. His brief will be to put opportunities on a plate for Watkins and the freshly-arrived Ings, much in the way that Grealish has done over the last couple of seasons. It may take time for Bailey to adapt to his new surroundings in the Premier League, but overall, he should provide a good return for Dean Smith’s side.

However, for all that Villa’s new signings are impressive additions to a team that came so close to relegation the season before last, it’s unclear whether they will be able to make up for the absence of Grealish’s unpredictability and flair. Few midfielders in recent Premier League history have boasted the kind of silky dribbling skills that Grealish has, along with the valuable attribute of being able to carve out scoring opportunities out of nothing.

In Smith, Aston Villa has a coach who will make these changes in his stride. We’ve seen in the past how teams can struggle after an influx of new signings, with players taking time to gel as a unit. But Smith knows what it takes to create a harmonious group of players and get them singing from the same hymn sheet. Despite the imminent departure of Grealish, it’s an exciting time to be a Villa fan.

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