Kevin De Bruyne has become the latest star at Manchester City to voice his appreciation for Jack Grealish.
The Aston Villa playmaker has long been touted as a future star of the English game and after sticking with his boyhood club following their relegation to the Championship in 2016, he is now excelling back in the Premier League as captain.
Grealish notched eight goals and six assists in the Premier League throughout the 2019/20 season and also helped the Villans reach the EFL Cup final, where they suffered a 2-1 defeat to Man City.
But before that match, Pep Guardiola was keen to highlight the talents of Grealish, naming the 25-year-old as “one of the best” in the Premier League.
This praise came after the former Barcelona boss had claimed Grealish was “too expensive” even for Manchester City to secure his signing.
“He’s incredible. A top player. I’m happy he stayed in the Championship to defend his club when he could have gone,” Guardiola said following City’s 3-0 win over Villa back in October 2019.
“He’s a talented player who always creates something. [Grealish] is an exceptional player but too expensive for Manchester!”
Rather than let these compliments go to his head, Grealish has taken his game to an even higher level this term, netting four goals and three assists in four Premier League and EFL Cup games combined so far. This included striking twice and providing a hat-trick of assists during Villa’s remarkable 7-2 win over reigning champions Liverpool.
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The reward? A first-ever start for the senior England national team in their recent 3-0 friendly win over Wales — in which Grealish assisted Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s opening goal and put in a man of the match performance — following on from a 14-minute debut cameo against Denmark in the Uefa Nations League in September.
Grealish could solve England’s “creative problem”, says De Bruyne
However, despite the Grealish fan club growing in numbers, the midfielder was controversially dropped to the bench by Gareth Southgate for England’s Nations League victory over Belgium at Wembley on Sunday. Responding to backlash about that decision, Southgate was full of praise for Grealish and insisted he opted to start Mason Mount to offer more defensive quality to his forward line.
But Belgian playmaker De Bruyne has revealed he has spoken with his Man City teammates about Grealish’s quality in the past and believes he could be the solution to England’s perceived lack of creativity.
“I rate him very highly,” De Bruyne said of Grealish. “He’s somebody I mentioned before, talking to the teammates at [Man] City, in a random conversation.
“In England, they talked about creative problems in midfield, but he brings that to a team. He deserves a shot.”
If Grealish’s form continues – and he continues to be on the receiving end of praise from key figures in the game – his claim for a more prominent role with the Three Lions will be difficult for Southgate to ignore.