Jack Grealish is the most expensive signing in Manchester City history as he cost the club a staggering £100 million (the-then British record transfer fee paid), and arrived at the club in the summer of 2021 with a lot of expectations.
The obvious reason was that he had the pressure to live up to his price tag, but also because of his ridiculously impressive displays for Aston Villa in the Premier League.
In 2021-22, his debut season, Grealish made 39 appearances, of which 31 came as a starter. He played 2,730 minutes across all competitions, scoring six goals and assisting four.
He was criticised for his large spells of inconsistency and his inability to have an impact in big games. Case in point, the 21/22 Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid, where he missed a couple of chances in the second leg to put the game beyond the eventual champions.
In his second season at the Etihad, though, Grealish had a much more regular role at left wing, forming a formidable attack with Erling Haaland. Although the Englishman scored only five goals, he racked up over 3,400 minutes and had 11 assists to his name.
He was performing well in big games and was slowly but surely starting to repay the faith that the club had shown by splurging a record fee on him. City won the treble last season and Grealish was vital to their success.
This season, however, Grealish has struggled to display the sort of level that made him indispensable to Pep Guardiola last season. The 28-year-old has made 15 appearances this season (he has two assists) across all competitions and has only scored one goal.
New recruitment Jeremy Doku, signed from Rennes for £55.5 million, got his chance to shine in the team when Grealish suffered a hamstring injury in September. And he grabbed the opportunity with open arms, giving Guardiola’s attack a sense of renewed unpredictability due to his intensely direct approach.
Once Grealish returned, Guardiola decided to stick with the 21-year-old Belgian and he has performed quite admirably.
In 18 games across all competitions, Doku has scored four goals and registered six assists in 961 minutes, averaging a goal/assist every 96 minutes. To simplify, he is basically directly contributing to a goal every game.
In an interview with Daily Mail, former Liverpool midfielder Graeme Souness didn’t mince his words when talking about Grealish, who has failed to score for club and country in his last 30 games.
Given the fact that Doku is clearly ahead of Grealish in the pecking order, Souness claimed that the latter has become very predictable and that the full-backs would rather prefer defending against him than Doku.
Ask 10 full-backs if they’d rather play against Doku or Grealish, and I think it would be Grealish every time. Defenders don’t like pace and players who are direct. The way it is today, you dangle a leg and that’s a penalty. Grealish isn’t showing any intent to get by defenders.
He is, for me, at a crossroads in his City career. Doku is 21 years old and is only going to improve. Jack is 28. He needs to have a close look at himself. He should be in his pomp. Between 26 and 30 you have the knowledge, you’re physically and mentally stronger. He will not be getting any better. This should be his time.– Greame Souness while analysing Grealish’s situation at Man City
Souness also went on to add that Grealish should be very concerned about his form and his current situation under Guardiola, with the Euros coming up next year followed by the World Cup in two years time.
So, if I was him, I would be very concerned. I’d be sitting in front of the manager and asking him, ‘How do you see it for me? I’ve won all these trophies with you but the new guy is the go-to player in my position.’
With the Euros coming up, and World Cup beyond that, he cannot afford to be sitting on the bench as a bit-part player. Only he can decide if he’s happy to be that. It’s not something I would have tolerated. I wanted to start every game and I did, if I was fit.– Greame Souness on Grealish’s club form affecting his international career
With more than half a season remaining, Grealish must fight hard to find his feet and regain his place in the starting XI if he aspires to achieve more success with one of the best teams around Europe and if he aspires to remain in Gareth Southgate’s plans for the major tournaments in the short to mid-term future.
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