Jack Grealish’s career arc has been fascinating to watch. After exploding onto the scene in the mid-2010s, he dropped from many people’s radars.

In the past few years, Grealish jumped back to stardom only for Pep to mold him into the perfect player for this City side.

One of FIFA’s career mode’s early wonderkids, Grealish had immense potential that seemingly died the moment his Villa side was relegated in 2016. Rather than following the path of other hyped-up players who got relegated,  he redefined himself into a superstar.

When he arrived in Manchester, Grealish had just led Villa back to stability in the Prem. In his first years back in the Prem, he was a creative disruptor that drew the most fouls in the league. Very few players could match the impact that he brought to the game.

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In his first season with Pep, the English international struggled to replicate the same production he had been known for. Grealish could have been shipped frozen out like so many other City failures. Instead, Pep has found a way to mold him into the glue guy for this historic City side.

Going from a talented youngster to the ultimate role player, Grealish’s career arc is genuinely unique in modern football. In so many instances, he could have settled for life in Premier League mediocrity, but he has found a way to win.

There is something truly human about Grealish. It’s his honesty about his lifestyle and career that makes him feel real.

Aston Villa of the mid-2010s were the definition of a mid-level side that constantly flirted with relegation. Around 2015 was when excitement came back to the Birmingham side in the form of an academy product. At the time, Irish international exploded on the scene and drew the eyes of Europe’s elite.

Just as the hype around Grealish reached its initial nadir, relegation awaited Villa. As the Birmingham club struggled in the Prem, so did Grealish. The youngster desperately needed time to work on his game, while his boyhood club needed someone to save them.

The Championship can either destroy or rescue the career of any promising young player. Grealish used his time in the second division to match his game with that of the professional level. He learned how to react to the game rather than try to bend it around him.

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After three seasons in the Championship, Grealish captained Villa back to the Prem. Upon his return to the top flight, Grealish became a full English international as Villa thrived. Once more, the eyes of Europe descended back on the Villa captain.

City and Pep would win the battle for Grealish, as the Citizens missed out on Messi for him. A mixed bag was the perfect description for his first season in Manchester. He clearly still had all the talent in the world, but Grealish struggled to fit into Pep’s system.

Now in his second season, he has finally become an integral part of a City side knocking on history’s door. In what has been a fascinating career, Grealish has finally found his place.

A lot of players face the dilemma that Grealish has over his time in Manchester. Do you accept being a role player on a winning side or play the way you want on a mediocre side?

Grealish has always been different from the quintessential English player. A winger who can play centrally while relying on skill to glide past defenders and open up play for others. To put it simply, Grealish walked so Phil Foden could run.

Almost his whole career, he has had to play this role and be the focal point of his team. In part, this is why he struggled in Manchester in his first season. Grealish tried to be his Villa self in a side that needed him to be a role player. 

Bernardo Silva is an excellent player who has perfected being the role player in winning sides. There are a lot of similarities in both their games, but the Portuguese developed into a winning player under Pep.

Pep is currently trying to mold Grealish into Silva 2.0, and it has worked, as he’s slowly committing back into his Villa form. Just like Silva, Pep has played Grealish anywhere from striker to midfielder. This versatility has given the side so much more creativity and allowed Haaland to have more space.

Photo: Getty

His role in this side is to be the connective tissue between the midfield and attack in a way that is completely different from his role at Villa. When he was the star, Grealish was the focal point who could be the main creator or finisher. With this new role, he is there to facilitate both de Bruyne and Haaland, bringing out what he can from both players.

To go from the star of a mid-table side to a role player on a title team is tough, and other players have failed. Grealish has used all the resources around him to become the glue guy on this City side.

When he first blew up on the football scene, Grealish was very much a boom-or-bust prospect. A lot of credit has to go to him for transforming his game to fit onto winning sides. It should also serve as a reminder to players everywhere about how to reach the top of the game. 

Featured image: Getty Images

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