Aston Villa midfielder Jack Grealish’s footballing journey has certainly been an interesting one, and now the youngster is finally starting to fulfil his overwhelming potential on a consistent basis.
The 22-year-old is highly considered to be one of the most well-rounded players in the Championship right now, and there is an argument to be made that he is the outright best player in the division.
A few years ago the competition for such an accolade would not have been quite so fierce, but when you consider the recent influx in both young English talent and big-name players from abroad, it speaks volumes about Grealish’s growth.
Having been brought up through the youth system since the age of six, it was clear to most who kept an eye on him that the Solihull-born lad was going to make some waves once he was able to break into the first team.
Alas, as is the case with any youngster tipped for success, there are always going to be obstacles in the way. The overwhelming hype that surrounded Grealish certainly translated into a few glimpses of greatness on the pitch, but that doesn’t necessarily tell the entire story.
Upon being relegated to the Championship it was clear that he was going to be one of the key components behind leading Villa back to the promised land, however, it soon became obvious that the rest of the league had placed a target firmly on his back.
A series of injuries did not help his cause, and neither did the label of him being too weak to handle the intense physicality of the second tier.
For all of his positives Grealish was being weighed down by all of the stereotypes surrounding the Championship, and yet out of that negativity, he managed to switch up his game.
Under the guidance of Steve Bruce, the England under-21s international has been brought back into the limelight as the focal point of Villa’s midfield, and his class is starting to be recognised outside of the Villa bubble.
Grealish is far and away the creative core of the Villa team, with his flair and natural ability on the ball only being matched by his vision and end product. You can see that he’s maturing into a role that few could have anticipated him to do, and in essence, his transformation has been a great example to other clubs.
We have seen several teams cast a young hopeful aside after a bad spell, instead of finding a way to nurture them and harness their talents. Villa stuck with the Grealish project and their perseverance means that instead of having to sell him off before buying him back for three times the place, he will be a featured member of the squad for years to come.