Comparisons in football haven’t meant as much to people as they do today. Social media thrives on comparisons, even if they aren’t fair comparisons. But one of the more sensible comparisons that have been happening these days concern Jack Grealish and James Maddison.
They probably come from Manchester United’s links with both the English stars. And they also come from England fans, who can have the Three Lions manager Gareth Southgate make a decision about taking one of them to the Euros in the summer. All the Norwegian fans of United would be delighted with either joining them this window.
These comparisons intensified recently, as Grealish took Aston Villa to the League Cup final after an emphatic 2-1 win over Maddison’s Leicester in the second leg of the semi-final. And these two games said a lot about both the players.
In the Premier League, Grealish has a tally of seven goals and five assists. While Maddison boasts of a tally of six goals and three assists. While there isn’t too big a difference, one is still better than the other. And that is Grealish.
The Villa youth graduate gives the impression of being a more mature player. That probably comes from having played more in the top flight and in better leagues than the former Norwich man Maddison. Grealish’s first experience of the Premier League came when he was a teenager.
The manner in which Grealish has matured due to other reasons is key too. He had become a controversial figure during his teenage days. The club went down and Grealish took the captain’s armband when the club was in a bad financial situation. He became a more reliable individual and the leadership role changed him.
As for Maddison, his first experience of the Premier League was only last season- when he was 22. His spells at Coventry and Aberdeen hadn’t been too impressive, even though he did improve Norwich before the move to King Power came about.
It is because of this maturity that Grealish has a higher XG90 than Maddison (0.24 to 0.19), despite the Foxes’ star taking 2.57 shots per 90. That is more than Grealish’s tally of 2.10. Being a more experienced competitor, Grealish gets involved more in the build-up than his potential Three Lions teammate.
Grealish’ XGBuildUp 90 stands at 0.34, with Maddison’s at 0.29. While the difference isn’t huge. But it shows who’s a more complete player than the other. And these minor differences are why Grealish has a higher final product. In the long-run, that does matter to potential suitors.
Grealish has been overperforming on his XG by 1.67- similar to how Maddison’s overperformance by 1.78. But the fact that Maddison underperforms on his XA by 1.16 is another sign. His final ball can be indecisive and that can let him down.
At 23, Maddison is still learning his trade. The same goes for Grealish, but he’s already past the learning stage. He’s the leader of the Villa side and he’s seen as the perfect individual who represents the club. He’s responsible for many more things than Maddison.
That isn’t a disrespect to the former Aberdeen star though. There is a reason why Man United have been after him for a while now and his abilities deserve that attention. But Maddison is just the sort of player who is yet to become as responsible as Grealish had to become at a young age. An experience like that can take Maddison above Grealish- whenever that happens.
Both are players who either play in the attacking midfield position or in the left-wing role but come inside often. That is why it is a valid comparison. And as things stand, Grealish is one step above Maddison, who is behind because of reasons that he probably isn’t to be blamed for.