Jack Grealish is a remarkably talented player that draws as much speculation, as he does fouls.
The Aston Villa player stands out for his team, with a system built to serve his undoubted attributes. His in and out selection for England is probably as much to do with his ability to impact from the bench, than anything else. With such an envious selection of players at Gareth Southgate’s disposal, the idea of having a proven ‘off the bench’ performer waiting in the wings, is sometimes as important as the starting roles. This can be detrimental to a player’s career, the role of back up.
As the Euros ends, so will begin a flurry of transfer activity to match the previous mounds of speculation. Jack Grealish (a Villa fan through & through), has a brief period of rest before deciding where the next step in his career lies. With Villa well backed by a deep pocketed owener, the club is in no hurry to part with their star man. The situation is always more complicated when the player in question holds a passport premium on his value. With homegrown talent finding it more and more difficult to emerge with the Premier League heavy weights, the cost of attaining a starting quality player is not lost on the selling club. In a summer where Jadon Sancho has signed with Manchester United (for a fee rising to €100 million euros), Villa will surely seek near parity in their own assets valuation.
The general consensus of Grealish is that he is an attacking midfielder, however his very best form is in a wide forward position. To compare Grealish appropriately is important, and his numbers should therefore be aligned with certain players only. The wide forward positions within the Premier League, are occupied by some of the leagues very best players. The club most linked with him appear to be Manchester City, and to make that side, the players who occupy those roles would be as follows; Raheem Sterling, Riyhad Mahrez, Ferran Torres, Phil Foden & Bernardo Silva.
Since the sale of Leroy Sané to Bayern Munich and the retirement Sergio Aguero, there does appear some scope for additions. The issue for Grealish would be the transition into such a well oiled machine, with huge competition. At Villa, Grealish will often garner his key moments from swiftly sprung attacks. His ability to drive with the ball and attack from wide areas are key components of his game. In a Pep Guardiola system, the ethos is often patience, with smart interchanging to overload the opposition. It has been apparent, at times, that Pep can overthink his systems, but he still stands as one of the worlds best. For Grealish to flourish under a Guardiola regime, his game will need refining. The tactical side will need to be on point, to meets the systems needs, and this will take time.
In possession of the ball, Kevin De Bruyne will remain the creative hub of the team, and this will not change any time soon. The question would be whether Jack Grealish can operate City’s pressing game, and interchange freely across a fluid forward line. This season alone, we have seen multiple players performing within the false 9 position, with other rotating across the pitch. The late runs of Ikay Gundogan have been a joy to watch, and the attacking play has not missed the lesser used Sergio Aguero.
With the before-mentioned price tag that will be demanded, it could be that the riches already at Peps disposal will price Grealish out of this move, and with Liverpool, Chelsea and now Manchester fully loaded with their own wide forwards, his options could be limited.
The uncertainty of Harry Kane’s future could well offer a domino scenario, with his possible move to the Etihad making Spurs a possible destination for Grealish. With the even more eye watering number it would take to sign Kane (£150 million), this could well open the door to a White Hart Lane move. A striker would of course be signed, but a combination of Heung Min Son & Grealish wide of this new forward would be a very good fit for all parties. The new manager (Nuno Espírito Santo) would have a combination of funds and possible makeweight players, but the Grealish signing could make sense.
In recent times we have seen a similar situation (to Grealish) with Wilf Zaha. The attacking player has been on the move every summer for what feels like a decade. His price tag was always the issue, with clubs simply not willing to pay the fee demanded by Crystal Palace. Given this situation, Zaha now enters the twilight of his career as a Palace player still. This sort of situation could become mirrored with Jack Grealish, and though his ability is not at all in question, suitability must be considered as well as the massive outlay. Too many players have spent too long pining for a move that does not materialise. The automatic starting place at Villa, would almost certainly become a rotation piece were he to head to City. Given his desire for more international starts, a move to Spurs or a stay at Villa would surely best serve his prime years. Villa are ambitious, and either a stay would be the sound choice, if not Spurs.
For Jack Grealish to truly cement his place in next years World Cup team, he must consider all these issues before deciding his future. The big money move does not always work out, and the club with which he resided have shown real determination to break into the top 6. Phillipe Coutinho left a Liverpool side that built massive momentum upon his exit, and must regret that failed move to Barcelona. The choice can sometimes too hard to reserve, but with Jack Grealish, he still has a full quota of options.
Based upon the summer plans of the Villa owners, it will be interesting to see how the situation pans out. For England’s and Jack’s sake, hopefully the choice becomes the correct one.