Danny Murphy: If I was Ole, Jurgen or Pep, I would sign Jack Grealish
If I was Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Jurgen Klopp or Pep Guardiola, I would sign Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish… and FAST!
- Jack Grealish has been linked with a move away from Aston Villa this summer
- The Villa captain has put in consistently good performances in recent weeks
- Grealish could sign for the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City this year
- Clubs like Liverpool, City and Manchester United should try hard to get him
This is a golden period for dynamic English midfield players between the ages of 20 and 25. Jack Grealish, James Maddison, Mason Mount and Dele Alli should all be around the top of the game for the next decade.
But if I was Jurgen Klopp, Pep Guardiola or Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and had a choice of signing only one of them, it’d be Jack for me.
All the players I’ve mentioned have great quality. But Grealish has the edge because of his positional range and the fact his particular gifts are extremely rare.
Jack Grealish is having a fantastic season at Aston Villa so far and the big clubs should buy him
Jurgen Klopp (left) and Pep Guardiola (right) should be making a move for him this summer
He’s already shown enough this season to ensure Sunday’s Carabao Cup final won’t make or break his long-term future, but wouldn’t it be fantastic if Aston Villa saw enough of the ball against Manchester City to allow him to shine on the big Wembley stage. I saw him do it against Liverpool in the 2015 FA Cup semi-final and that’s when I realised we had a proper talent on our hands.
If you look at the top teams, Manchester City and Liverpool, it’s noticeable they like players who can perform exceptionally in more than one position. Think about Raheem Sterling, Fernandinho, Kevin De Bruyne, Jordan Henderson, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Mo Salah.
Grealish has that in his locker. He has the mix of physicality and technical skills to operate in a number of areas. His best roles for me would be as a No 10 in front of two holding midfielders or as one of the two more advanced midfielders in a 4-3-3. But managers do also have the option of using him on the left of a front three where he can make and score goals.
Grealish could also join Manchester United – where he scored a brilliant goal earlier this season
The Villa captain is capable of both making and scoring goals at the highest level
He could also do a job in a deeper-lying midfield role as he’s so comfortable receiving the ball under pressure, though you’d be sacrificing his creativity there, which would be a waste.
If you’re Klopp for example, having that variety at your disposal is a Godsend. I’d already put Grealish ahead of Naby Keita or James Milner and the only thing Gini Wijnaldum has over him at the moment is experience of consistently playing big matches.
Grealish has been heavily linked with Manchester United, particularly if they lose Paul Pogba, but I don’t think they will be the only ones interested if he decides to move from his boyhood club this summer to maximise his career. He fits Klopp’s philosophy and although Guardiola has Phil Foden he’ll still be interested in other good players with David Silva leaving this summer.
I don’t think Pep’s mind would be made up by one game but it wouldn’t do Grealish any harm to turn it on on Saturday afternoon. It worked for me once – I played so well for Charlton against Tottenham, Martin Jol took me to White Hart Lane.
The midfielder has the potential to impress Pep Guardiola in Sunday’s Carabao Cup final
Grealish has shone at Wembley before – he helped beat Liverpool in the 2015 FA Cup semi-final
After losing to City earlier in the season with Villa, can Grealish finally be on the winning team?
Back to 2015, what impressed me watching Grealish against Liverpool was the confidence he showed in taking the ball in tight areas. When a young player does that, it means he backs his talent.
He was a kid then, he’s a man now. He’s 24, a year older than Dele Alli who has won 37 caps for England, but this pathway, whilst slower, could yield better long-term results. He’s been down in the Championship, showing tremendous character and mentality to revive his career and get Villa promoted, and has been outstanding this season, as captain in a team that has struggled.
Steven Gerrard made me smile last week when he compared Grealish’s calves to mine. I can see what he meant: my strength in the lower legs gave me a lot of power and speed over the first couple of yards, which is really important to a midfield player.
Steven Gerrard (left) said that Grealish’s power in his lower legs gives him an advantage
The Englishman’s unique physique gives him power and pace like no other
What Jack can do is sustain that speed over a longer period. He is strong enough to ride challenges but also has the trickery and acceleration to get away from markers.
Ultimately, Grealish may not be able to lift the cup for Villa on Sunday. But I don’t see any repeat of Manchester City’s 6-1 win at Villa Park earlier this season.
I think the occasion will raise Villa’s game. From what I’ve seen of Grealish, coming up against the likes of Fernandinho, De Bruyne and Sterling will only inspire him.
A cup final will be a welcome break for Grealish from relegation six-pointers. Next season I think he’ll have the chance to play at the top of the league and in Europe. Even in this emerging generation, he stands out.
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