By PHIL JENNINGS, Villa Roar
THE stories have started already, slowly the drip feed has begun – Jack Grealish is wanted by the Premier League.
Tottenham are said to be back in for the Villa skipper although surely that would depend on Maurico Pochettino’s destination this summer.
Leicester City? They were always mentioned in the days of Claude Puel and before the club’s recruitment officer left.
Would a top six team other than Spurs go for Grealish?
And when the stark reality of Villa’s financial situation is analysed, another season in the Championship would not improve it.
The same restrictions that threatened to send Villa into administration last year would still apply.
And that is with new cash-rich owners Wes Edens and Nassef Sawiris at the helm.
The spectre that is FFP would not ease up, but clearly the wealth at boardroom level would be enough to ensure that the bills get paid on time.
All the indications are that Grealish may have to be sold just to keep the Villa ship steady again this summer.
The upside of that of course is that Dean Smith will have the funds to go and rebuild his Villa squad. Expect bids for players such as Brentford’s Neal Maupay to be targeted this summer.
But there is one way for Villa to keep hold of Grealish – win promotion.
Even now, after three wins on the spin ahead of the home game against Middlesbrough, it will be some feat if Villa get into the play-offs, reach the final at Wembley and then beat the likes of Leeds, Sheffield United or Norwich.
Impossible? Of course not with Grealish in this sort of inspirational form and players such as John McGinn responding with goals of his own.
But it looks as though the only way to keep Grealish would be for Villa to gatecrash their way into the Premier League.
Grealish was clearly disappointed that the new ownership blocked Spurs’ attempts to sign him last year.
But it seems unlikely that would be an issue this time – and the money would be welcomed.
The latest figures show that Villa are not out of the woods yet when it comes to their financial state.
So Grealish’s current form comes as a double edged sword. He could just be the man to turn Villa’s play-off hopes into reality.
His three month lay-off means he is fresher than most players with his ability in the Championship – even if it means he gets targeted by opposition markers more than most.
But if Villa fall short he will have altered the Premier League to his obvious talents,