One of the points put forward by those who think Jack Grealish is just a luxury signing for Manchester City is that the club already has similar players. But will Pep Guardiola and the City hierarchy break the British transfer record for just another player? Grealish certainly brings something unique to Man City that sets him apart from the rest.
Statements from club officials and the manager before and after the player’s signing reveal as much. For anyone still in doubt, all that’s needed is to take a closer look at his numbers. The statistics often tell the story.
Kevin De Bruyne has been City’s chief creator in the last few years. The Belgian has a knack for opening up defences and helping the team find a breakthrough when the going gets tough. As a result of the way the team dominates the ball, opposing teams often resort to forming a low block thereby becoming extremely difficult to break down.
They then hit the Blues on quick counters that become very dangerous. Sometimes putting just one chance away from such breaks will settle the game. Clubs like Leeds United, Leicester City and Manchester United used the strategy to secure wins against City last season.
Even Borussia Dortmund deployed the style in their Champions League encounter at the Etihad Stadium last term and almost came away with a draw. It took a last-minute goal by Phil Foden from a De Bruyne superb delivery to settle the tie.
It’s such creative sparks that put players like De Bruyne and Grealish in a league of their own. They can create something out of nothing when the need arises. No other player in the team is quite like the duo. So they make for a deadly combination.
As already stated, De Bruyne has been City’s creative force. The 30-year-old led the league in key passes last season and came second only to Harry Kane in assists. However, Grealish was third on the list. He also came third in the league for chances created with 81. That’s significant for City.
The only thing better than De Bruyne at this point is having a suitable alternative and complement to the Belgian.
With the duo, City will have no problem creating chances, no matter how many opposition players line up in the defence.
His new manager knows exactly why he bought him.
“[He] controls the tempo,” said Guardiola. “I love when he has the ball he stops before the dribble and the opponent stops as well. He controls the tempo when he accelerates and decelerates.
“We believe that he will be perfect for us…and we’re delighted to have him with us.”
The player himself thinks he brings something different to the table.
“I’m different to every player in this squad,” Grealish said at his first press conference at City.
“Raheem and wingers can go in behind, Riyad is an out and out dribbler, Phil has a bit of everything.
“I feel I can bring a lot to the team and that’s what the manager has brought me here for. Whether I’m a winger or an 8, 10, false 9, I feel I can bring a lot.
The biggest thing the Englishman brings to the Etihad Stadium is his creativity. That will alleviate some of the burden on Kevin De Bruyne as far as creating goalscoring opportunities is concerned.
The Blues led the way with 60% average possession per 90 mins and scored the most goals in the division last term.
All things being equal, Grealish can help the team maintain that standard moving forward.