Jack Grealish would find it more “enjoyable” to stay at Aston Villa, claims Paul Merson, but Darius Vassell thinks he must leave if he wants to prove himself in Europe.
Grealish has been a standout player in Villa’s first season back in the Premier League. The midfielder scored eight goals – including one on the final day to help keep them up – and provided six assists from 36 appearances.
His form has seen him linked heavily with a move to a bigger club. Manchester United reportedly have Grealish on their wishlist for the summer – and the 24-year-old has admitted he is “not sure” what the future holds.
However, former Villa star Paul Merson thinks Grealish may be better suited to stay put. The Sky Sports pundit claims that the club captain would not be able to play the same way if he was to step up to the likes of Man Utd.
“I’m not sure,” Merson replied when asked if Grealish would leave Villa. “I think he might be there.
“This club suits him. He can play how he wants, he gets the ball. He’s the big fish in the little pond and everything goes through him.
“And it’s enjoyable for him – of course it is. He’s going to touch the ball 100 times a game in every single game.
“Now, you go to Man Utd, you’re not playing every week and you’re not being able to play the way you play there. You have to two touch and you have to give it and move and pass.
“I think he’s got to have a sit down and think what he wants to do with his career. I think it’s an important time.
“Tiss [Matt Le Tissier] stayed [at Southampton] and look at the career he had. You can do that with being at one club and I think this would suit him.
“I know his agent will probably be going, ‘you know what, Jack, let’s move on, we’re going to get this and that’. It’s not all about the money, you want to be playing football week in, week out.
“He’s not assured of playing anywhere else. It’s not like the old days. You go somewhere for £50-60m, and you’re playing every week, even if you’ve got one leg. It isn’t the case now.
“You can go for £50-60m now, three bad games and you’re out of the team.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s still playing for his childhood club next season, I really wouldn’t.”
‘GREALISH HAS OUTGROWN VILLA’
On the other hand, another ex-Villa star in Darius Vassell thinks Grealish must move on if he is to prove himself.
Also speaking to Sky Sports, the former England striker warned Grealish that he will only be able to test his true ability if he joins a club competing in Europe.
“Villa fans aren’t going to like me saying it, but he’s almost outgrown, too good,” Vassell admitted. “It’s always Jack that’s expected to come up with the goods in football matches and I think that to truly test himself and how good he can be, he needs to be playing football in Europe.
“Villa obviously are aspiring to get there, but they might be a few seasons away from that. So for Jack, if he wants to get there soon, he might have to think about leaving.
“But at the same time, as a Villa fan, you want to see him with the claret colours on, scoring goals and providing the goals for his teammates.
“That’s where we want him, but from his point of view, if he wants to play European football, then he’s got to think about his future now, and I’m pretty sure he will be.”