Graeme Souness believes Jack Grealish is coming under pressure at Manchester City as he believes he has ‘flattered to deceive’.
The 28-year-old has made just three Premier League starts for the champions this season amid the arrival of Jeremy Doku.
Grealish was key to the club’s treble success last season and scored in the dramatic 3-3 draw against Tottenham, but many still feel he hasn’t proven his £100million price-tag from his 2021 move.
Former Liverpool captain Souness, who won the league and European Cup as a player, has previously questioned his impact and believes the England international couldn’t have played in any of his Reds sides due to his style.
“Too many touches,” he told White and Jordan on talkSPORT when asked to elaborate on the point.
“The way that I was coached from some of the best brains that world football has ever seen, it was all about getting it out of your feet as quickly as you can if you can’t pass it, one touch, and remember the pitches we used to play on.
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“In simple terms, the only people that need time on the ball are the guys that put the ball in the back of the net.”
He was then asked if he just takes time to do the right thing with the ball at City, but Souness responded: “But he doesn’t do the right thing, the stats will back that up.
“Let me tell you how it works: people who dribble with the ball – for the uneducated, that ‘Oh, he’s a good player’, that gets you on the edge of your seat – people who run with the ball have always done that.
“But ultimately, there has to be an end product, skip past one, give it in [to the box] early. Don’t skip past one, skip past two and lose it to the third man. So people who dribble with the ball, and I’m not talking about Jack in particular, they’ve always excited people and always had a bit more attention on them because they spend more time on the ball.”
He added: “I just think Jack, he doesn’t see it early enough and that’s why he takes early touches, I don’t believe any coach would tell any player to dwell on the ball as much as he does.”
Since signing in the summer, Doku has impressed on the left of the City attack by scoring three goals and assisting another six, with Grealish’s efforts being a lot less.
“He’s scored one goal and one assist this year for City, a team that dominates the ball, a team that’s always on the front foot, a team that scores goals.
“That ain’t enough, it’s just not enough. I think the first thing he has to do is have a conversation with the manager and say, ‘What do you think?’ If you’re a big player you want to be starting every single game, every single moment you want to be on the pitch.
“So if he’s now no longer the go-top guy, that’s a conversation only him and the manager can have. I think he’s under pressure. I have to say I’m not his biggest fan, I think he’s flattered to deceive. Put it another way, you put Jack on the market tomorrow. who’s buying him for how much?”
“He’s a rascal, I bet he’s great to have a night out with,” Souness then said, before adding: “We’re having this conversation for one reason and one reason only about Doku, who’s come in and shown right now he’s more influential than what Jack is.
“I was brought up to believe that, if you’re having touches of the ball then you’re not seeing the pitch early enough.
“A top player, like Paul Scholes, when he’s not in possession of the ball himself and his teammates are passing it around.
“Every pass they make he’s thinking, ‘If it should come to me, where am I going to play it?’ and he’s looking to pop it off first time. His brain is working ten to the dozen. I think Doku is putting [Grealish] under pressure.”