TOTTENHAM are now regretting not trying to sign Jack Grealish earlier in the transfer window.
Spurs were not prepared to increase their £25m valuation on the midfielder, 22, when Aston Villa were demanding £40m.
But they were confident the midlanders, in financial crisis at the time after failing to win promotion, would eventually crack.
Even Villa boss Steve Bruce feared he would lose playmaker Grealish.
But as Spurs remained convinced the deal would go through before last Thursday’s transfer deadline for Premier League signings, the game changer was Villa’s sudden ownership change.
Tony Xia sold his controlling interest in the club to two billionaires in Egyptian Nassef Sawiris and American Wes Edens, who bought 55 per cent of the club for £30m.
Villa’s new regime not only rejected Tottenham’s eventual offer of £25m but also insisted Grealish was not for sale.
The midfielder had his heart set on a move to Mauricio Pochettino’s squad but Villa are more interested now in negotiating a new deal.
Grealish has two years left on his contract.
Meanwhile, Villa boss Bruce will scour Premier League benches as he looks to boost his Championship squad with loan signings.
Clubs outside the top flight have until the end of the month to add top-flight players on a temporary basis.
Chelsea striker Tammy Abraham, West Ham winger Robert Snodgrass – who spent last season on loan at Villa Park – and Everton outcast Yannick Bolasie are among Bruce’s targets.