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‘School captain’ Grealish is a ‘special player’ and would improve Man Utd, says Merson

12:03 BST 20/04/2020
Jack Grealish
The former Aston Villa play maker believes the highly-rated 24-year-old doesn’t trust those around him at present, but would star in a better team

Jack Grealish is a “special player”, says Paul Merson, and thinks it is easy to see why the likes of Manchester United are so keen on landing a creative influence who is trying to be “the school captain” at Aston Villa.

The 24-year-old’s performances back in the Premier League this season have seen his stock rise considerably. Having shown himself to be capable of mixing it with English football’s elite, senior international recognition and a big-money move are now said to be on the table.

Those at Old Trafford are considered to be leading the transfer chase, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer still in the market for added creativity.

Former Villa star Merson believes Grealish would be a “massive asset” for all of his many suitors, as better team-mates would take his game to even greater heights.

“He’s a special player,” Merson told Sky Sports. “He’s the best three or four-yard passer I’ve seen in the game for a long time. People will go ‘three or four-yard passes’, but you watch football when it comes back and see how many people roll the ball to a full-back and they have to take a touch or someone goes on the overlap and they kick it out of touch.

“It is always a pitch perfect ball, that three or four-yard ball and for me he is a special player. Very comfortable on the ball, very gifted.”

Merson added: “He’s an outstanding player. People look at him at the moment and big clubs are probably thinking ‘can I trust Jack Grealish, has he got a position?’

“He keeps going everywhere for the ball, but I think that’s just because he’s at Aston Villa. If he went to a bigger club with better players who are on his wavelength, I think he will play a position.

“At the moment people are a bit worried because he’s going all over the pitch to get the ball. With better players, he would be able to hold his position and would be a massive asset for any club in the Premier League.”

Grealish is club captain and a talismanic presence for Villa, with Dean Smith’s side looking to their skipper for inspiration every time they take to the field. That responsibility has been embraced, but Merson believes too much is expected of one individual.

He added: “I do think he tries to take on too much because he doesn’t have trust in the players, that they are good enough, around him. If he was with better players…

“I think he doesn’t trust the players and he’s trying to be the school captain at the moment and do everything. He’s keeping the ball too long but with better players, they would demand the ball off him.

“At Aston Villa, they let him do what he wants because, like the school captain, he can go and beat everybody and we’ll win the game.”

Before football shut down amid the coronavirus pandemic, Grealish had recorded nine goals and eight assists across all competitions for Villa in the 2019-20 campaign.