Most of us would dream of being in Jack Grealish’s shoes, as they house his very talented feet.
Grealish’s emergence as one of the very best players in the Premier League has been a joy to watch in the past couple of seasons. He’s been one of the great thrills of pandemic football, in which there have been very few.
His elevation to the England squad and the acclaim he’s received have been deserved, but would you swap places with him right now?
Does he turn his back on Aston Villa?
As the Villa captain prepares to sort out his future, there are conflicting reports over whether or not he’ll decide to stay at Villa Park or move to Manchester City, having seemed nailed on for the Etihad Stadium just a few weeks ago.
The smart money would still be on him making the move, but if he didn’t then we could have a new chapter to add to these transfer sagas.
Steven Gerrard – Liverpool to Chelsea (2004 and 2005)
Probably the saga with the most in common with this one, Liverpool captain Gerrard faced the difficult choice over whether or not to walk out on his boyhood club for the guaranteed riches and trophies on offer at newly cashed-up Chelsea.
And he faced it not once but twice.
Gerrard nearly joined the Blues in the summer of 2004, the same year Jose Mourinho pitched up at Stamford Bridge, but after staying and improbably leading the Reds to the Champions League, he then announced he was leaving for the Blues the following year.
A day later he changed his mind, and he remained at Liverpool for another decade.
Robinho – Real Madrid to Chelsea (2008)
Chelsea missed out again three years on, when they were so confident that they were signing Robinho from Real Madrid that they started selling his shirts on the club website.
The Blues didn’t reckon with the new spending power of Manchester City though, and with City determined to make a splash with a marquee signing, they muscled in as Real were left furious by Chelsea’s faux pas.
“My main goal was to move to Chelsea – Big Phil (Scolari) had said I could make the difference for him as his squad, according to him, was not creative enough,” Robinho told FourFourTwo in 2017.
“They were also reluctant to let me move to a club that was playing in the Champions League the same season – Chelsea were, but Manchester City weren’t. I moved to a great club and they welcomed me in the best way. I had one and a half years of joy in Manchester, despite the city being a lot colder than Madrid!
“But Real Madrid had fallen out with Chelsea – they didn’t like them selling shirts with my name on before the deal had been done. I’m pretty sure that this error was one of the main reasons why the transfer failed, as it was a matter of pride for Real Madrid.”
Fabian Delph – Aston Villa to Manchester City (2015)
The trouble with more recent transfer U-turns is that there is always a social media statement to back it up.
Back in 2015, Villa midfielder Delph announced that he wasn’t in fact joining City because “I love the club, I love being here, this is my club.”
And of course that was plastered all over Twitter and Villa fans rejoiced.
Then he moved six days later.
Yes, it’s the lesser spotted double-U turn. (A W turn?)
Back to Chelsea again, and another example of them missing out on one of the biggest names in the English game not once but twice.
You get the sense that the Blues were really determined to add Rooney to their ranks as a sign of their new position at the very top of the English game, and after they turned Rooney’s head in 2010 – leading to Sir Alex Ferguson publicly declaring that the forward wanted to leave – they tried again three years later when David Moyes was in charge.
Rooney was looking to leave then too, but United stood firm and rejected the interest, forcing Rooney into a climbdown as he stayed at Old Trafford.
It is one thing to perform a U-turn before you’ve signed on the dotted line for a club, but it is quite another to do so when you’ve already joined.
Champions League winner Hamann did just that in 2006 when he’d agreed to join Bolton before a change of heart and a switch to Sven-Goran Eriksson’s City.
Hamann had never actually arrived at the club, which is a far cry from defender David Unsworth’s decision to ditch Villa for Everton just a month after joining from West Ham in 1998.
Villa did at least get their £3million back though, with Unsworth citing problems with his commute and a desire to return closer to home.
The king of these moves though is probably Jon Obi Mikel, who agreed to join Manchester United and even posed in a United shirt back in 2005, with images of his signed contract circulating.
A messy row ensued though, and he was later snapped up by Chelsea having played for United a grand total of zero times.