Southampton's James Ward-Prowse compared to Jack Grealish amid Aston Villa interest

Southampton midfielder James Ward-Prowse

Aston Villa failed to sign summer target James Ward-Prowse because of Southampton's hefty price tag for the England midfielder, according to Express & Star journalist Luke Hatfield.

What's the latest news involving Ward-Prowse?

Having seen a number of bids for Arsenal creative midfielder Emile Smith Rowe rejected, Villa boss Dean Smith turned his attentions towards Ward-Prowse during the transfer window.

Villa tabled a £25million offer but were left frustrated as Southampton turned down the proposal.

Ward-Prowse became a Villa target having played every minute in each of the last two Premier League campaigns, but Southampton were keen to hold onto their captain and slapped a £50million price tag on the central midfielder.

The 26-year-old - who narrowly missed out on England's final squad for Euro 2020 - scored nine goals, including a brace of free-kicks in Southampton’s 4-3 win at Villa Park, and registered seven assists as he showed his devastating ability from dead-ball situations last term.

Villa's hopes of returning for the central midfielder in January suffered a blow when Ward-Prowse signed a new five-year contract last month.

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What has Luke Hatfield said about Ward-Prowse?

Hatfield believes Southampton's valuation of Ward-Prowse put Smith's side off returning with another bid in the summer transfer window.

However, he insists Saints cannot be criticised for pricing Ward-Prowse at £50million after Jack Grealish departed Villa Park for Premier League champions Manchester City for a British transfer record fee of £100million.

Hatfield told GMS: "It's been the case for a long time now where Premier League players have an extra tax on them.

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"The reported fee wanted for Ward-Prowse, I think it was around £50million, just seemed a stretch too far for Villa. But, ultimately, he is probably worth that money to Southampton.

"Villa did exactly the same thing with Grealish. They said £100million was their valuation and if no-one meets it, he's staying.

"You can understand it. Villa fans complain sometimes when they see a player they are linked with being touted for that kind of money but, in the same respect, you're doing it to clubs who are interested in your players."

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How has Ward-Prowse performed this season?

Ward-Prowse has remained a key part of Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl's plans and claimed his first goal of the season, from the penalty spot, in the 2-2 draw with Newcastle United last month.

The central midfielder, who has won eight international caps for England, also registered two assists as Saints recorded the biggest away win in their history thanks to an 8-0 thrashing of League Two outfit Newport County in the second round of the League Cup.

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