Jack Grealish is the most expensive player in Premier League history. But he doesn’t act like it.
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Lounged back in a chair at Manchester City’s training ground wearing his Christmas sweater, Grealish could not have been more relaxed.
Laughing, smiling and at ease, Jack Grealish no longer has the weight of a $132.4 million price-tag on his back.
But the 26-year-old did admit it has taken him some time to get used to being at Man City following his record-breaking transfer from Aston Villa this summer.
Speaking to ProSoccerTalk ahead of their game against Newcastle on Sunday (watch live, 9am ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) as part of the busy festive period, Grealish revealed he wants to keep improving his goals and assists numbers, but is happy to contribute however Man City need him to.
Boosting stats important
“It has probably been a little more difficult than I thought it would be. I thought I was just going to come here and maybe double my goals and assists tally that I had at Villa,” Jack Grealish smiled. “That hasn’t been the case at the moment but I still feel like I’ve done okay. The one thing I have struggled with is the goals and assists and hopefully now I am settled here, starting to get used to the players and the team and the management staff, and the club as a whole really, I hope now I can kick on.”
Asked more specifically about how important it is to boost his attacking stats (he has scored three goals and added three assists in 18 appearances in all competitions, including a goal last time out against Leeds) given the other intangibles he brings to the attacking lineup at City, Grealish wants to put more pressure on himself to deliver week in, week out.
“Stats are important because at the end of the day that is what people look at, how many goal involvements do us attackers have. Especially when you come to the club with the price-tag that I did, you don’t get some for a few games and everyone starts to talk and you start to almost doubt yourself a little bit,” Grealish smiled.
“They [stats] are important but there will be times when you are playing well but the goals and assists just aren’t coming. That is what it has felt like recently. That Watford game the other day, I could have scored about four or five and I came off the pitch with nothing! Even the Leeds game as well, we scored seven goals and I only get one. I’m trying to keep on improving all the time and I know the longer I’m going to be here the more I will improve.”
Pep Guardiola ‘has a different plan for every single game’
Playing for Pep Guardiola was a big reason why Jack Grealish signed for Manchester City in the summer and the England international revealed just how inspiring the Spanish coach is on a daily basis as he aims to improve.
“He does so much and he is absolutely obsessed with football. I think that is why he has had the career he has had as a player and as a manager. He is a ‘Football-aholic’ really, he absolutely loves it. The craziest thing that he does, every game is a different gameplan,” Grealish revealed.
“I know you have a lot of managers out there that like to stick to the same gameplan no matter what team you’re playing, but he is the complete opposite. Every different game we come up against it is a different way of playing. He has obviously studied that game for the week leading up to it. The amount of games he has won for us this season from his tactics is just unbelievable.”
Medals galore the aim
Asked if Manchester City can win it all this season, Grealish paused briefly, smiled, then said this.
“I think so, yeah. I don’t want to put too much pressure on the team but we have so much talent,” Grealish said. “We have so many good players and I really think we can go all the way in a fair few competitions this year. That is what I’ve come here for, to win trophies. So hopefully come the end of the season I’ll have a few medals around my neck.”
Grealish also admitted that he’s not trying to change his style of play too much, and he wants to get back to dribbling at defenders and causing havoc as much as he can as he settles in with a new team.
There is a growing sense he is becoming more comfortable at City with every game he plays and he will kick on in the second half of the season.
Hoping to live American dream in the future
Even though he’s only just arrived in Manchester, Grealish also spoke openly about his plans to one day play in MLS.
“100 percent, I’ve always said that,” Grealish said when asked if MLS was somewhere he would want to play in the future. “I said it to my Dad not long ago actually, when we were just speaking about anything. I said to him it was something that would definitely stand out. I’ve always loved the U.S. and I think MLS is something that is really coming on now.
“One of my ex-teammates Carles Gil had a really good year there this year (named MLS MVP for 2021). I follow him on Instagram and keep up to date with what he’s doing. I know he had a really good season for the New England Revolution and he’s captain, and I played with him when he was at Villa. Seeing how much he’s enjoying himself over there, and stuff like that, definitely in the future I could see myself playing in America.”
Get ready for Grealish-mania in the USA in the future.
Headbands, rolled down socks and silky skills are coming to a town near you.