Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes have turbo-charged Manchester United’s season over the last three weeks.
There is not a player United could sign who would dislodge either of them from the club’s starting XI.
But there is an important need to add depth, and despite what Graeme Souness may think, Jack Grealish would be a top asset for United if a deal can be done this summer.
Souness told Sky Sports, quoted by The Mail: “He has ability and he’s easy on the eye, silky on the eye. But, I am yet to be convinced by him. I think anyone who gets tackled that much is just not seeing the picture quick enough.”
Grealish snapped back on social media, saying simply, ‘Can’t please everyone.’
Stats back the midfielder up
Grealish has been linked with a transfer to Manchester United over the past few months. The Mirror reported in mid-June that he is a priority target.
Aston Villa’s possible and increasingly likely relegation makes this more likely.
Souness’ assessment that Grealish ‘does not see the picture’ quick enough is not backed through statistics.
Grealish creates 2.6 chances per game in the Premier League this season, playing in a poor side.
This outperforms Paul Pogba (2.3) and teammate Bruno Fernandes (2.2) who have both been in terrific form for United since the restart.
The Villa man is fouled at an average of 4.9 times per game, a totality which is already the highest in league history in a single season.
But this does not simply mean he ‘does not see the picture’ and holds onto the ball too long as Souness infers.
Grealish averages 2.1 successful dribbles per game, and it is this ability and willingness to take players on which leads to persistent fouling, along with the fact he is by far and away Villa’s main threat.
Opponents take the view that if they can stop Grealish, then they stop Villa. Often they are right, although the midfielder has still managed seven goals and six assists this season in the Premier League.
This is seven goals and six assists more than Jesse Lingard has managed in 20 Premier League appearances.
Lingard failed to make the bench for the sixth time in the last eight league games at the weekend.
He is the player who Grealish would be replacing at Old Trafford, rather than Pogba or Fernandes, and he offers a very impressive alternative.
Grealish can also play on the left, if United wish to rotate Marcus Rashford, and while this will give United’s front three a different dynamic, adding his creativity to Pogba and Fernandes is a dangerous proposition.
If opponents pay him the same type of attention they do now, then it provides even more room for Pogba, Fernandes, Martial and Greenwood to do damage.
And if they back off, Grealish will be able to hurt them himself. It is a dilemma which will give opposition coaches and players headaches just thinking about.
A long discussed move may take some time to sort out when it comes to agreeing a fee with Aston Villa. But it could well be worth it.
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