Former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand has urged his former club to ‘make a ‘big decision’ this summer, claiming he would love to see Jack Grealish at United next season.
Grealish is a transfer target for Manchester City this summer after an impressive 2020/21 season with Aston Villa and some magnificent cameos for England at Euro 2020.
MEN Sport understands that City have submitted a £100 million bid for Grealish, as they look to recruit the Villa playmaker before the start of the 2021/22 Premier League season.
After securing the signatures of Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane, a United move for Grealish seems impossible due to his massive price tag.
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Speaking on his YouTube channel, Ferdinand expressed his awe for Grealish but knows that it will be difficult to even attempt a move for the Villa man unless there are some big changes at the club.
“I would love him to join Manchester United, obviously,” said Ferdinand.
“But I just feel that the position that he plays is stacked.
“Bruno [Fernandes] in a ten, [Marcus] Rashford’s on the left, [Anthony] Martial is there, [Paul] Pogba is there. It kind of rules Manchester United out unless they say: ‘No, we’re going to shift a player or two to get him’. That’s the big decision they have to make.”
So, if Ferdinand’s wish came true this summer, how would Grealish fit in at Manchester United?
Would he take someone’s place and lead United to glory, or will he be used as an impact sub like he was for England at Euro 2020?
We simulated next season with Grealish in the squad, along with new signings Sancho and Varane, to see what could happen.
To set up this simulation, we used the Football Manager 2021 editor to arrange for Grealish to join United.
This is what the 25-year-old’s FM21 profile looks like as of 1 July, 2021.
Grealish slotted straight into the attacking midfield position at United – doing so well that he was accommodated for by Bruno Fernandes moving deeper into midfield.
The 25-year-old took no time to settle at Old Trafford and was one of the league’s best attacking talents as he played 56 games, scoring 18 and assisting 11 in that time.
Let’s take a closer look at Grealish’s stats from the 2021/22 simulated season:
Grealish averaged a rating of 7.42 per game across all competitions, with the majority of his goal contributions coming in the league with 13 goals and eight assists in 37 league games.
Grealish had an 83 percent passing accuracy in all competitions as well as 40 percent of his shots being on target, showing that his attacking flair and contribution was vital to United.
At the end of the 2021/22 season, Football Manager 2021 put together an overall best United XI, based on performances, statistics and other metrics.
Full United best XI: De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Varane, Maguire, Shaw, Fernandes, Pogba, Sancho, Grealish, Rashford, Greenwood.
So how did United perform in all competitions in our simulated season with Grealish in the squad?
United’s simulated 2021/22 season with Grealish
Alongside Varane and Sancho, Grealish proved to be one of the missing pieces to United’s Premier League puzzle, with the 25-year-old helping United go one better than last season and win the Premier League title.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side broke the 90 point barrier as they beat Liverpool to the title by six points, putting United 16 points better off than the 2020/21 season.
Interestingly, United also managed to concede the least amount of goals in the league with Varane added to their backline, as just 23 goals made it past the Frenchman and his defensive teammates.
But in the cup competitions, Solskjaer’s semi-final troubles continued.
Despite playing against nine men for over half an hour, United lost 2-0 in the second leg of the Champions League semi-finals as they were defeated 2-1 on aggregate by Real Madrid.
There was no luck for the Red Devils in any domestic competitions either, with Man City beating United in the 2-1 in the FA Cup semis and Spurs winning 4-2 over the course of two legs in the penultimate round of the League Cup.
But it was still a superb season for United.
With Ferdinand urging his former club to sign Grealish this summer, this FM21 simulation backs up the 42-year-old’s comments as with him in the squad, they brought the Premier League back to Old Trafford for the first time since the 2012/13 season.
Would Grealish be a good signing for Manchester United this summer? Let us know in the comments below!