Exclusive – Aston Villa are ready to sanction ambitious spending that would see talisman Jack Grealish sign a new contract to become one of the highest paid English players in the Premier League, while also attempting to secure Ross Barkley on a permanent deal from Chelsea.
The form of Grealish and Barkley this season is a main reason why Villa are in contention for a European place, compared to last season when the club only avoided relegation on the final day.
The 25-year-old only signed a new deal worth £120,000 per week last summer, but he remains on the radar of all the clubs that have previously been monitoring him, even though his value has soared in recent months and he would cost a vast transfer fee.
What’s more, Villa are keen to show their own desire to progress as a club and sources have told 90min that owners Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens want to make Grealish unsellable by offering him a new deal worth over £200,000 per week - one that would commit his long-term future to his boyhood side.
Villa hope their plan to land Barkley on a permanent deal will also show Grealish the club’s ambition. The on-loan Chelsea midfielder has rediscovered his best form since arriving in September and as a ‘number 10’ has developed a fine on-field relationship with the home-grown star.
90min previously reported in November that Barkley’s form with Villa was impressing then Chelsea manager Frank Lampard, who had made the 27-year-old aware that there would be a future for him back at Stamford Bridge should he continue to play well.
Lampard is obviously no longer in charge at Chelsea following his dismissal at the end of January and it is not yet known if new boss Thomas Tuchel sees a future at the club for Barkley.
If Villa want to seal a permanent transfer for Barkley, 90min understands that Chelsea will ask for a fee in the region of £40m. That would mean Villa smashing their existing transfer record, which stands at the £28m plus add-ons deal to sign Ollie Watkins last summer.