Graeme Souness is not exactly looking for a job in the Manchester United recruitment department. But still, would they have taken note of his comments about Jack Grealish this week?
Grealish has been a long-term goal to them, clearly a player that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admires, and Aston Villa’s husband is a £ 50 million target in front of them in the window.
They have identified it as an addition that could help them go a step further. Competing for the Champions League places is not enough and the goal in the summer is to make them a top Premier League player.
Jack Grealish was a target for Manchester United during the current campaign
Graeme Souness criticized Grealish during Villa’s game against Liverpool over the weekend
Still, Souness isn’t convinced Grealish can take that to Old Trafford. During the game against Liverpool on Sunday, he suggested that the midfielder was not intensive.
When asked about his assessment of Grealish, Souness told Sky Sports: ‘He’s got quality, but will the top teams carry passengers if they don’t have the ball?
“No – they don’t have players with their hands on their hips if they lose the ball.
Everyone rolls up their sleeves to print first, second or third. That is something that is not currently in play.
He suggested that players at the top don’t have players who are ‘with their hands on their hips’
“I don’t deny that he has talent, but for me there is a big question mark.”
A stat that is regularly performed to support the 24-year-old’s ability is that he is the most polluted player in the league.
He has been polluted 151 times in the 2019-20 season – a massive 45 times more than the next most polluted player, Wilfried Zaha.
It has often been suggested that this means that opponents are concerned about him and that the only way to deal with him is to use resources that violate the rules of the game.
Grealish is the most polluted player in the Premier League and fell 151 times
Still, Souness saw it differently. “When I was a player, I wouldn’t want to be the most polluted player in the league,” he said.
“That means I’m holding the ball too long. That means I don’t see the photo early enough, I take extra when I don’t need to.
“He is competent and soft to the eyes, silky to the eyes. But I still have to be convinced by him.
“When I was coached at Liverpool, I was told to make a decision from the striker with my exercise.
But Souness suggested it was not positive that Grealish had been soiled so many times
“I let them run where I want to kick the ball. I guess someone who gets soiled so often doesn’t see the photo fast enough.
“As an old midfielder, would I have liked to play against him? I would have liked to play against him.
“He allows me to get close to him, get physical with him. I don’t want to play Paul Scholes, Xavi or Andres Iniesta. They are too fast – they fall out with one or two touches.
“I want to play against people like him – he would allow me to mess with him.”
The midfielder is followed by Wolves star Ruben Neves during their game last month
Grealish will have the perfect opportunity to prove Souness Thursday night when Villa hosts United. If he can star in that game, it shows he has the talent to play for the opposition next season.
Still, there are reasonable doubts as to whether the Villa man is that standard player. He has six assists throughout the season, making it 15th in the Premier League.
But that also means he’s under Emiliano Buendia and Harvey Barnes, both of whom have seven. Neither has been touted for big money movements, despite impressing.
It also puts him on the same level as Dwight McNeil and Ashley Westwood. Again, it’s not a criticism of them, just an acknowledgment that they are not mentioned in the same posts.
Creatively, he is not particularly comparable to some of his best flight rivals
He is also on par with Daniel James, who has been criticized for his recent screenings for United.
Admittedly, he has created 82 opportunities, second best in the top flight. It could cast doubt on whether Villa – threatened with relegation – has the firepower to turn the chances it creates.
Still, only six have been touted as “big opportunities.” That actually means that Villa’s forwards match the quality Grealish offers them.
Although he offers positions to score a goal, only six were particularly good.
This is not to say that Souness is absolutely right. Grealish is clearly a talent and impressed at Old Trafford earlier this season. Solskjaer said on Wednesday that he would watch out for him: ‘Grealish scored a fantastic goal (the last time we played).
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said he would ensure that his party was aware of Grealish on Thursday
“A lot has been said about him and we need to know about him, whether he is left, center or right.
“He’s pulling players in, but there’s not one player on that Villa team, there are many.”
And he is a talisman figure for a poor Villa side. He dragged them into promotion last season, the form that took them from the center of the table to the playoffs, completely coinciding with his return to fitness.
His agent Jonathan Barnett hinted at a move to a big game after insisting that Villa keep going: ‘I think it would be great for his career to play in the Champions League and his great skills and I’m not sure in which country or where it will be. ‘
He has the perfect opportunity to answer Souness’s questions against United on Thursday
When it comes to his goal of keeping Villa in the Premier League, Thursday night’s match is a perfect stage to do it. Help them to win, make sure they finish outside the bottom three and he will be remembered there as a hero.
Conveniently, on the point of taking a big step forward, it’s also a great stage to audition. Show off for Solskjaer and it can force his hand.
Souness made it clear. When it comes to Grealish, he has his questions. It’s time for Grealish to answer them.