England playmaker Jack Grealish has hailed Lionel Messi among two “unbelievable” players to have starred at the World Cup and named the “biggest threat” to the Three Lions going all the way in Qatar.
Grealish has come off the bench in both of England’s group matches so far and scored in the 6-2 win over Iran.
And the Manchester City forward was asked for his take on the best players at the tournament and which team he believes are England’s biggest challengers for the trophy.
He told talkSPORT: “I watch all the games to be honest. We have screens all over the place at the hotel and it’s just nice to have games on all day.
“I was watching Messi [against Mexico], unbelievable. He just showed what he’s about in that second half but then again so did Mbappe.
“I think there are lots of brilliant teams, some teams have that one player who’s just unstoppable but I think Brazil are one of the most impressive I’ve seen so far. They have so much talent, especially in those attacking areas. If you’re asking me who the biggest threat is, I’d probably say Brazil.”
Grealish also reckons the negative response to England’s 0-0 draw with the USA was a “big overreaction”.
“I think there was a big overreaction,” he added.
“Apart from Spain, are we the top scorers in the tournament? I can’t think off the top of my head if there’s anyone that’s scored more than six.
“The other day against Iran we were the best thing since sliced bread, scoring six goals, and then we go a game without scoring and there’s a bit of an overreaction. I think that’s what you get sometimes playing for England.”
Grealish will be hoping for a start in England’s final group game against Wales on Tuesday, in which the Three Lions just need to avoid a defeat by four goals or more to qualify for the last 16.
But it’s Phil Foden who the England fans are gunning for to be selected in Gareth Southgate’s XI.
In response to the clamour for Foden to start, Southgate said: “We are intending to be here as long as we can and he is a super player. We think the world of him and he is going to play a big part.
“We love Phil. He’s a super player. He’s obviously been into the first game (v Iran). We decided not to put him into the second but he is going to play an important part in this tournament for us. There is no question about that.”
Speaking on Sunday, City and England team-mate Kalvin Phillips backed Foden to “shine” when given his chance and Southgate admits he could fulfil a number of roles.
“We haven’t got any issue with Phil,” he added.
“In September he started both games for us. We put him into the game against Iran. We decided to stick with that team (for USA) and we felt the changes required something a little bit different for the game with the United States.
“He can play on the wing. He can play as a false nine and he can play behind the striker – he doesn’t do that as often for his club.
“He is very flexible. He works hard for the team and of course he has got fabulous technical ability.”