Graeme Souness admits he is ‘yet to be convinced’ by Jack Grealish and has questioned the Aston Villa midfielder’s suitability to play for a top club.
Grealish has carried a weight of expectation in a struggling Villa side this season but has largely won plaudits for his displays, though came in for criticism from Sky Sports’ pundit Souness following his performance in the club’s 2-0 defeat at Liverpool.
Souness discussed the 24-year-old – who has been strongly linked with a summer move to Manchester United – and admits he is yet to be convinced by the midfielder’s abilities, questioning Grealish’s work-rate when his side are out of possession.
“He has got quality but do the top teams carry passengers when they don’t have the ball? No – they don’t have players that stand with their hands on their hips when they lose the ball,” Souness said on Sky Sports. Everyone rolls their sleeves up to be the first, second or third one to press. That is something that is not in his game right now.
“I’m not denying he has talent – but for me there’s a big question mark.”
Grealish broke the record to become the most fouled player in a Premier League season last month, though Souness believes that such a statistic is an indication of the midfielder failing to move the ball quickly and ‘taking too many touches’ when in possession.
“When I was playing, I would not want to be the most fouled player in the Premier League,” he added.
“That means I’m holding on to the ball for far too long. It means I’m not seeing the picture early enough.
🗣 "A player who gets tackled that much is not seeing the picture quick enough. I'd of loved to play against him"
Graeme Souness on Jack Grealish pic.twitter.com/wigYamZsbJ
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) July 5, 2020
“That means I’m not seeing the picture early enough, taking too many touches when I don’t need to.
“There’s no doubt about it he has ability, easy on the eye, silky. But I’m yet to be convinced by him.”
Souness further indicated his belief that Grealish is ‘not seeing the picture quick enough’, and says he ‘would’ve loved’ to have played against the Villa captain who allows players to get close to him.
“When I was being coached at Liverpool, I was told that I made the striker’s mind up,” he continued.
“With my body movement, the way I get the ball out of my feet, I’m making them run before I even kick the ball.
“I just think anyone who gets tackled that much and draws that many fouls is not seeing the picture quick enough.
“Would I have liked to play against him? I would’ve loved to play against him, get physical with him.
“I wouldn’t like to play against Paul Scholes, he’s too quick. Xavi, Iniesta, popping it off one or two touches.”
Grealish responded to Souness’ criticism via his social media account, responding to a statistic that shows the midfielder is amongst the most creative players in the Premier League so far this season despite his club’s lowly position.
Can’t please everyone 🤷🏻♂️ https://t.co/Ozu0Tb8YTn
— Jack Grealish (@JackGrealish) July 6, 2020
Only Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne – who leads the division for assists – has provided more opportunities for his teammates so far this season, Grealish having created 80 chances in 2694 minutes of top flight action.
See also – Premier League Team of the Week