Former Aston Villa man Stan Collymore does not think Unai Emery would have Jack Grealish at the club despite the fact his time at Manchester City could be “coming to an end”.
For a club with all the history of Villa, having won a European Cup in 1981/82 and multiple Division 1 titles, Grealish is still probably one of the best players to ever play there, despite his best finish with them being 11th in the Premier League.
That he remained in the Championship for years helped him to become a fan favourite, before he took his boyhood club back up to the Premier League as captain after a magical run at the back end of the 2018/19 season.
His level rose in the top flight, and it was no surprise a big side in Manchester City came calling. Grealish has won two Premier League titles, a Champions League and an FA Cup with the Citizens.
While he scored five league goals and provided seven assists last season, he’s not the huge star he was at Villa, and of late, Jeremy Doku has surpassed him as Pep Guardiola’s favoured left winger.
Collymore believes the Belgian has now cemented that position.
“Jeremy Doku is a serious talent and it looks to me like he’s going to be City’s main wide attacker for years to come,” he told Caught Offside.
In fact, with the talent at City, the pundit has suggested Grealish might not have a place at all at some point soon.
“Phil Foden is one of the club’s own and a player who is still very young. He’s also super versatile in attack so he’s not going anywhere — so that does kind of beg the question as to what could happen with Jack Grealish,” Collymore added.
“I do wonder if his time with City is coming to an end. He’s done well there and has the silverware to show for it but he continues to be linked with a return to Aston Villa.”
Indeed, many Villa fans would surely jump at the chance to have Grealish back at the club, but Collymore doesn’t feel Emery would share the sentiment, nor does he.
“I really like Grealish – he’s a top player and an even nicer human being but as a Villa fan would I take him back? – No, I don’t think I would,” Collymore said.
“I don’t think Emery would embrace Grealish coming back. He did exceptionally well during his time there and most fans will always be thankful, but the club has moved on since then.
“We’re in a different position with different goals and I just think digging up the past rarely proves beneficial.”
Collymore brings up some valid points about people not being the same when they return to a previous club, as well as the fact the club has moved on.
Grealish was great at Villa because he was given free licence to do what he wanted, and that paved the way for some magic moments, but there weren’t as many star names at the club then.
Given there are now, he wouldn’t be given that same licence. That said, though, Villa will want to qualify for the Champions League – they’re currently fifth in the Premier League – and Grealish would be a valuable asset given he’s won it.
What’s more, he’s showed his relationship with Ollie Watkins on the pitch remains intact with England, and he is still useful for the Three Lions despite having a lot of talent around him.
As such, he might simply bring up the level at Villa and help them to reach their goals rather than take opportunities away from other top players.