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Manchester City are on the verge of signing Jack Grealish after making a British record £100m bid for the Aston Villa captain - and it should come as no surprise, too, especially given his individual statistics recorded last season.
As a result of his stellar performances for Dean Smith's side last term, City boss Pep Guardiola spoke of his admiration for Grealish - with the Spaniard labelling him as one of the best playmakers in Europe.
Guardiola, however, already has a wealth of options at his disposal which warrants the question: would Grealish be an improvement on what he has already got?
On the face of it, City are about to pay an eye-watering £100m for a player who has, arguably, been one of the Premier League's best performers over the past two seasons.
The fee, which would eclipse the £89m that Manchester United paid for Paul Pogba in 2016 as the highest ever paid by an English club, should underline how keen Guardiola is to have Grealish in his team.
To put it simply, only a handful of players in Europe can boast superior ball carrying stats than Grealish, who managed to bag seven goals and 12 assists last term.
According to transfer expert Fabrizio Romano, Grealish has signed a five-year contract until June 2026 and has already spoken directly to new boss Guardiola. There has been no official confirmation as of yet, however.
Jack Grealish has signed his contract until June 2026. He's gonna be announced as new Manchester City player for £100m from Aston Villa. Paperworks signed yesterday evening between the two clubs. :large_blue_circle: #MCFC
Pep Guardiola has already spoken directly with Jack. Here-we-go confirmed.
- Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) August 5, 2021
Grealish's ability on the ball has also made him a firm fans' favourite, which crossed over to England during this summer's European Championships, when many felt he was underused by Gareth Southgate.
City's interest in Grealish should come as no surprise, either, especially when taking into account his stats from last season.
Here, we take a look at five stats from last season that Guardiola may have used to convince City's hierarchy to splash the cash on the Midlands-born superstar.
The 25-year-old even set a new record for being fouled the most times of any player ever in a Premier League season - winning 167 free-kicks at a rate of nearly five per game. Talk about taking one for the team.
Speaking to The Independent before this summer's European Championships, Grealish opened up on being the most fouled player in the division last term.
"There was one tackle that went onto my shin where I've been quite sore," he said.
And despite his willingness to take one for the team, Grealish admits the worry of picking up a knock.
He continued: "But I think I've got this - I don't know if it's a quality, I'd like to say it is - of riding challenges.
"Even though I get fouled and go down, I ride them quite well. I'm going to touch wood there."
Grealish also finished second in the rankings for the most key passes per game - and that is likely to suit Guardiola's position, pass and possession mantra.
His versatility and quality has seen the England star operate on the left wing, in an attacking midfield role, as well as a box-to-box midfield position.
Despite criticism from a few that he takes his time on the ball, his decision making is almost always on point and it has definitely helped him progress.
More importantly, he can do it all right from breaking lines to progress the attack, to killer passes piercing through the opposition defensive line, and into the penalty area.
Furthermore and probably most impressive of all, Grealish finished fifth in the league for assists per game, recording ten in total, with only one City player in De Bruyne recording more - with 11 to etched to his name.
As reported by The Sun, Grealish has struck up a friendship with midfielder De Bruyne, whom he regards as the best player in the Premier League, as he has stated on multiple occasions in the past. Chemistry confirmed.
More assists could very well be on Grealish's agenda come the new season, too - especially if he has fellow Three Lions star Harry Kane to feed in front of goal.
Behind Golden Boot winner Kane and future team-mate De Bruyne, Grealish was the third best player in the Premier League last season when combining his stats together.
For Villa, he was mainly deployed as a wide playmaker on the left with freedom to roam and limited defensive responsibility.
It's unlikely he will have quite the same amount of freedom in Man City's side and thoughts are already turning to how the blue side of Manchester will line-up with the new acquisition in the side.
After taking his stats into account, one thing is for sure - Grealish certainly won't be out of his depth and, if anything, he will thrive with City's stars around him.
Featured Image Credit: PA Images
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