Premier League champions Manchester City broke the British transfer record on the 5th of August when they signed Jack Grealish from Aston Villa. A fee of £100M was agreed between the two clubs making it the highest ever fee paid by a Premier League club.
Jack Grealish was given his favoured number 10 shirt which was left vacant by Aguero, and his Man City career kicked off when he started the first game of the Premier League season against Tottenham Hotspur. He started this game on the left side of midfield alongside Fernandinho and Gundogan, which is a much deeper position compared to his preferred left-wing position. Pep Guardiola’s men lost to Spurs 1-0 in a game where they did not perform particularly well, but Jack Grealish was arguably their best player on the day.
Following the opening day defeat, Pep decided to play him in his preferred position for the next two games, and Grealish has looked like he was born to play in that role in this Man City squad.
Grealish has been signed for such a hefty fee due to his attacking prowess and creativity – and we can already see some evidence of this below.
The black line in the middle of the above visual is the average of the entire league, and one can clearly see the quality Grealish possesses, having all of the above attacking stats higher than the Premier League average. The percentages at the end of each bar show the percentage of Premier League players Grealish is better than in that certain statistic.
So far this season, Grealish has been outstanding in attack like he used to be at Villa and has scored and assisted one goal each. He has settled into Pep’s starting lineup very quickly. In the Premier League, Grealish has had a lot of touches in the opponent’s box, more than 96% of Premier League players, making a little over eight touches every 90 minutes.
It is fair to say that Grealish has been feeling totally at home since joining City. He has developed some decent passing partnerships, especially with the likes of midfielder Ilkay Gundogan and full-back Cancelo, as both have been starting games on the left side of the pitch like him. Grealish has produced a decent number for the xT(expected threat) metric, especially when he has made forward passes to the likes of Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus.
A lot of people have been critical about the defensive contributions made by Grealish during his time at Aston Villa. He has surely improved the defensive side of his game since joining City, and the statistics support this claim as he has a better defensive duel and aerial duel win percentage than the average of the Premier League players. He has also been dropping deeper to help in build up as well as help in defending make a decent amount of passes in his own half as well.
Jack’s shot map shows the way he has matured as a footballer. A Villa player who would take a shot on goal on every single opportunity he gets, he has very quickly transformed into a Man City player who waits for the perfect opportunity to take a shot. This is why all of his shots on goal over the first three weeks have come from inside the box.
Anybody who follows Man City, or has ever followed a Pep Guardiola team at any point knows that Pep wants all his players to be great passers of the ball, and wants them to pass the ball around till the perfect goal-scoring opportunity arises. Jack Grealish’s pass map shows that he has adapted to Pep’s style of football very quickly and has enough quality to be the kind of player his manager wants him to be.
Grealish’s brilliant start to his Man City career and the PL season shows that he really belongs in that team and the 25-year-old has a very long career ahead of him. In fact, he has enough time in his career to become a Manchester City legend and maybe, he can be the last piece of the puzzle that Pep has been trying to solve in order to bring home the Champions League title for Manchester City.