Aston Villa are “a relegation team” without star performer Jack Grealish, according to Sky Sports pundit Paul Merson.
Grealish has made 22 starts for Villa in the Premier League this season, contributing six goals and ten assists for his boyhood club.
However, the England international hasn’t featured since Villa drew 0-0 at Brighton on February 13 because of a leg injury.
There was a small possibility he could’ve featured in their 2-0 loss to Tottenham over the weekend but it’s now one win in six matches without Grealish, including a defeat to rock-bottom Sheffield United.
And Merson reckons Villa would be “well down in the bottom half of the table” next season if Grealish chose to leave this summer.
Merson told Sky Sports: “I said it when he first got injured: Villa are a completely different team [without Grealish]. They’re solid enough at the back, they’ve got two good centre-halves, the two full-backs are decent and the goalie is good.
“But they’re not going to score any goals without Grealish. You wouldn’t back Jack to get 20 goals a season, but he does create a lot of chances and he’s their go-to man.
“Without being horrible, they’re a relegation team without Jack Grealish in the team. Not this season, but if Jack ended up leaving, you’d expect them to be well down in the bottom half of the table.”
However, speaking after their loss to Spurs, Dean Smith put Villa’s recent form down to a loss of momentum at a key point in the season.
“After the Covid, form has been up and down since then, we have lost the momentum,” Smith said. “Since then our form has been up and down ad we have lost our consistency.
“But I see that in the whole league. We have been up and down, we have played well in some games and not so well in others.
“The amount of games we have played, Covid broke up that momentum, we came back to a really tough game in Man City.
“In the last seven or eight games we have not shown that rhythm and momentum we have had. Players have got to play themselves back into form. Their form isn’t there at the moment.”
When asked what his plan was for the international break, Smith added: “They’ll have a few days off. We’ve got a game planned on the Friday for a few of the players who haven’t had many minutes so that will be good for the likes of Wesley and Kortney Hause and the players who haven’t been playing regular.
“It’ll be good to get some minutes into them.”