As reported this week, Spurs are opening negotiations for 22 year old Aston Villa midfielder Jack Grealish. Take a look at 90MAAT’s scout report for the talented Englishman as we discuss his technical, physical and mental attributes and where he might fit into Pochettino’s team.
A players technical ability includes many key facets of the game, including ball control, passing, shooting, crossing and dribbling. Here we will break down the strengths and weaknesses of Grealish’s technical game.
One of Grealish’s most obvious key technical strengths is his close ball control and dribbling. Comfortable at taking the ball at speed into feet, he has the ability to roll and turn a defender and carry the ball into space with minimal touches.
In tight spaces, he is also able to take control of the ball with small precise touches to get himself into space and look for a passing, crossing or shooting options.
His control of the ball in these situations is reminiscent of an Isco or Tottenham’s Moussa Dembele. Although these skills are clearly not yet fully developed, Grealish has the potential to master close ball control to a top class level.
Grealish is also capable of executing a clever chipped pass and a well weighted or whipped cross from wide areas. Similarly, he shows the potential to develop an effective long range shot from outside the box, although there is limited consistency to this part of his game at this stage in his development.
One effective development that Grealish has made over the past season is his ability to use his dribbling ability to win fouls in critical areas of the pitch. Eden Hazard is arguably the best in the world at the moment at doing this, and Grealish is showing an ability to follow in a similar trajectory, although it is unlikely that winning fouls will become a focal facet of his game as it did with Hazard.
Of the few obvious technical weaknesses that Grealish possesses, his aerial prowess is arguably one for him to work on. Although he is not inadequate, and has scored headed goals, his height (5ft 9in) and preference to use his feet, means that this is an area that could be developed.
Similarly, while he has improved in his defensive duties and favours a sliding tackle, he could work to progress his tackling on two feet to ensure he fits into Pochettino’s high intensity system.
There are few doubts if any over Grealish’s physical prowess. He possesses a low centre of gravity with very well developed quads and calves for his age which shows when carrying the ball past defenders and riding challenges.
Grealish also has very good stamina shown by his eagerness to work hard with and without the ball. He is increasingly seen chasing down attackers in defence and positioning himself in space in attack.
While not exceptionally quick over a long chase, Grealish posesess excellent acceleration over 10 yards which gives him the ability to seemingly drift past defenders and put himself into space.
Grealish has also proven his physical robustness with his ability to ride some heavy challenges at times without suffering from any major or catastrophic injuries, a very positive sign for a developing young player.
Up until recently, Grealish’s maturity and professionalism had been brought into question, with then Aston VIlla manager Tim Sherwood publicly condemning Grealish’s recreational use of Nitros Oxide gas at a party in 2015.
Since Sherwood urged Grealish to follow the professionalism of the likes of Joe Cole, Grealish has matured into a professional footballer with his eyes seemingly set on developing his talent and fulfilling his potential.
As was mentioned earlier, Grealish has the ability to deliver effective crosses and utilise a range of passes to put team mates into scoring positions. Importantly this is matched by his ability to see those passes in the first place, suggesting the midfielder sees the game well and is constantly scanning his surroundings.
This is further evidenced by the fact he very rarely loses the ball from his first touch, which suggests he is aware of the location of defenders and has the ability to take the ball into space as he receives it.
Additionally, Grealish took to being relegated with Aston Villa as well as could be expected and showed maturity and determination in order to help drive Villa to the play-offs.
While he has been called the “English Dybala”, by someone at The Sun I imagine, Grealish more closely resembles a 22 year old Isco than anybody else.
It is interesting to note that they both started playing as inverted forwards on the left wing and both then moved into a central attacking midfield role. Isco has since dropped slightly deeper and Grealish has followed this trend in the previous season by dropping into a more creative role instead of playing off the main striker.
This trajectory may be a factor in both players possessing excellent close ball control and dribbling attributes which makes them highly effective players in what has become a conjested midfield in modern football. Both have very low centres of gravity and look to carry the ball past defenders and into space in order to create opportunities for others.
Isco is clearly many levels above where Grealish is at currently in terms of the completeness and refined nature of his performances. However, there are not too many differences between Isco when he was 22 and Grealish. Grealish has the potential to reach a similar ability, but this is largely down to the level of determination that he possesses, which is difficult to gauge.
So where does he fit into Pochettino’s system? Initially it appears difficult for him to get into the starting XI, with Dele, Eriksen and Dier plus the supporting cast of Winks and Wanyama occupying the midfield spots. Add to that the ability of Lamela and Lucas to be useful as central attacking midfielders and Grealish’s position in the side is not particularly clear.
However, it is initially plausible to see Grealish as the back up of Eriksen and Dele, providing much needed competition to the latter. Additionally, with Son out for at least two months, and potentially two years, his ability to deputise as an inverted forward on the left makes him an excellent utility option for Pochettino (a vast improvement on what Sissoko offered anyway).
Grealish’s best position at the moment is in the playmaker role currently occupied by Eriksen. Dele plays slightly further forward and, at his best, makes effective runs into the box which is not something we see so much of from Grealish. However he and Eriksen could certainly play alongside each other ahead of a Dier, Winks or Wanyama in a midfield three.
Either way, Grealish offers Pochettino plenty of options, and Spurs fans can be exited that they may be acquiring a player with true top class potential, although as always there are no guarantees that the player is going to fulfil that potential.
Written by Chris Wyles.