Jack Grealish, the king of the freemen, man of the moment, signs for Manchester City. That is, after all, what Pep Guardiola and Manchester City have been aiming for.
City are have managed to sign everyone’s favourite lovable rogue for a Premier League record fee, despite the fact that most would agree that acquiring a striker and left-back should take precedence.
Grealish’s importance to Aston Villa cannot be overstated, and his departure would be a devastating loss. However, with the midfielder capable of bringing a variety of traits to the Etihad Stadium, their loss would be City’s gain. Here’s how he might fit in:
How good is Jack Grealish?
Excellent and exceptional. He has been one of Europe’s most powerful creators for the last two seasons. Grealish is one of those rare, joyful players who manages to combine outstanding numbers with the intangible “wow” factor that makes football so beautiful.
No Premier League player generated more chances from open play per 90 minutes last season than Harry Kane, who was capable of creating chances off the dribble or with an assist. City already have a plethora of playmakers. So adding Grealish – whose unpredictable nature adds another dimension to the attack – is a risky proposition.
Grealish’s ability to carry the ball is also noteworthy. Only five players in Europe’s top five divisions completed more advanced carries in league football last season. Lionel Messi, Rodrigo de Paul, Luis Alberto, Frenkie de Jong, and Lorenzo Insigne. All of them played significantly more minutes than Grealish, with only Messi outperforming him in terms of minutes per 90 minutes.
This ability to pirouette through defenses with his rippling calves sparkling in the sun not only makes him a fan favourite among the neutrals, but it also serves a critical role for the club. If he joins City, he will likely have less space to work with, as opponents typically set up in a low block against them, but this should not be a problem.
Jack Grealish has the ability to turn on a dime and create space between himself and his opponent out of thin air, which Guardiola will relish.
Grealish’s preternatural talent on the ball, as well as his creative prowess, are undeniable. Could he, on the other hand, struggle to fit in at City in terms of style?
Aymeric Laporte, Raheem Sterling, Gabriel Jesus, and even Riyad Mahrez have all been linked with a move due to a lack of playing time. Is it possible that Grealish’s impending arrival will force one or more of these players to leave? Potentially.
If Man City did sign Jack Grealish, what would be their first choice midfield? 🤔 pic.twitter.com/rDnUVx5Z01
— 90min (@90min_Football) July 29, 2021
Sterling’s chances of securing a starting left forward spot will be harmed by his arrival, as he was in and out of the first team last season. It is more difficult to imagine Mahrez leaving for Paris Saint-Germain, who have already spent heavily this summer and are really his only option.
Grealish may need some time to adjust to a heavier defensive load when he is not in possession. City does not spend much time defending, but when they do, they are a merciless pressing machine, the result of hours of conditioning on the training ground.
Some have questioned Grealish’s defensive abilities. Although he may lack the elite positional sense required for a Guardiola player, he surely has the drive to be one. Last season, he had 13 pressures per 90 minutes, the same as Georginio Wijnaldum.
Where Will He fit In?
Grealish might fit into City’s first team in a number of ways, each of which comes with a hefty caveat.
Grealish, in particular, is difficult to pin down to a single position. Despite playing as a conventional left-winger for the bulk of the 2020/21 season. His heat map was flaming in practically every nook and crevice of the final third.
Grealish could easily fit into Guardiola’s tremendously powerful wide forward rotation. However the touchline hugging nature of the role may frustrate him. Being ordered to sit out games is, without a doubt, one of the most irritating aspects of working at the Etihad Stadium.