Following yet another Aston Villa defeat in the Premier League, pundits and journalists were seemingly queueing up to take a swipe at Jack Grealish.
The Villa captain, 24, has struggled for form since the Premier League returned in June and has yet to register a goal or assist since the restart. After a 2-0 defeat to newly crowned champions Liverpool, Sky Sports pundit Graeme Souness took aim at the midfielder for his poor performances.
“When I was playing I would not have wanted to be the most fouled player in the league. It means he’s not seeing the picture quick enough, he’s holding onto the ball for too long. I’m yet to be convinced by him.
“When I was at Liverpool I was told that I make the striker’s mind up with my body positioning and my passes. He doesn’t see the picture quick enough. I always ask myself if, being an old midfielder, I’d have liked to play against these guys; I’d have loved to play against him. He’d let me get near him, he’d let me get physical. I don’t want to play against Scholes, Xavi, Iniesta who pop it off with one, two touches. I’d have loved to play against him because I know he’s going to allow me to mess him around.“
Grealish has been linked with a move to Arsenal and Manchester United, with Villa’s likely relegation making it even more likely that he will leave him boyhood club.
Souness spoke again on Sky Sports about a potential move, stating that he was unsure if he’s ready for such a transfer to happen despite his clear ability. Souness said:
“There’s no doubting he has genuine quality. I’m not so sure [he’s ready]. He has got qualities. Do Liverpool carry passengers when they have the ball? No. Do Man City? Definitely not. No-one has anyone who is standing with their hands on their hips when they lose the ball. They need to be the first, second, third to press to win it back. He doesn’t have that in his game at the moment.“
Grealish was obviously stung by the remarks, replying to a tweet with “can’t please everyone” alongside a graphic that backed up his own talents.
The picture showed that only Kevin De Bruyne has created more chances for his teammates than Grealish this season, which points to the under-performance of his teammates as more of an issue than his own performances.
Grealish is obviously a super talented player and I think it goes without saying that the quality of player around him hasn’t helped him flourish this season. That said, he has quite easily been the stand-out performer in the side and has justified his links to a top club.
Whether he would start at said clubs is a different story, but you’d be hard pressed to find a fan of a Top 6 club that wouldn’t welcome him into their side as a well deserved member of the squad.
Aston Villa’s reported £80million asking price is definitely far too high, but with relegation looming at Villa Park that fee could be almost halved in the current climate and would represent much greater value for a player who would provide quality depth for a side competing in Europe.