Gareth Barry referenced the difference in what Jack Grealish “could learn about the game” when urging the Aston Villa talisman to pick a Man Utd rival if he moves in the summer.
Grealish has been in the form of his life in the current campaign, notching six goals and 11 assists from his 19 league appearances.
His displays have transformed Villa from a relegation threatened team last term to one with genuine European aspirations.
The 25-year-old’s mesmeric performances are no secret, with Man Utd emerging as potential suitors last summer.
A deal ultimately did not materialise, but the Red Devils could be one of many seeking to land the England star in the summer.
Grealish’s game would seem to be tailor-made for a traditional top six club. However, Barry believes Man City, not Utd, would be the prime destination for Grealish to continue his rapid rise – should he wish to depart.
Speaking to talkSPORT (via Goal), Barry said: “I’d say: ‘for now, keep enjoying your football’. He’s captaining his boyhood club and that’s given him the freedom and the confidence that’s been key to the way he’s playing.
“He knows where he is until the end of the season, he should try and get Aston Villa into a European spot. He’ll want to be playing European football and if he can be doing that for Aston Villa next season then that would be fantastic for him and the club.
Aston Villa v West Ham Match Preview, February 03, 2021
A look ahead to the Premier League game between Aston Villa and West Ham, including stats on form, possession, shots, cards, corners, top scorers and previous meetings.
“But the stories aren’t going to go away, he’s playing too well. It’s not just going to be one team that wants his signature; it’s going to be four or five across Europe.
“It’ll be interesting times for Jack and for Aston Villa in the summer but looking with a Villa head on, it would be great if we see Jack Grealish playing European football for Aston Villa and not anyone else.”
When pushed on which side would be the best fit if Grealish did leave Villa Park, Barry added: “I would love to see him work under someone like Guardiola.
“That manager could help him learn more about the game, improve more. I’d go for Manchester City if you make me choose one.”