Jack Grealish has questioned why talkSPORT pundit Graeme Souness seemingly has a problem with him.
The England international has come in for criticism from Souness for his performances since joining Manchester City from Aston Villa for £100million.
Speaking in his regular slot on White and Jordan this week, Liverpool and Rangers legend Souness reiterated his consistent view that Grealish had not improved since making the move from Villa and takes too many touches.
“He is a good footballer. He is not a great player,” he said. “He is a good player who got a big move and is yet to do it at Man City.
“I see the same Grealish I saw at Villa a few years ago.
“I understand why people think he is better than what he actually is because he runs with the ball and he gets you on the edge of your seat, but he doesn’t deliver enough”.
Grealish, who is in England’s squad for their Nations League fixtures against Italy and Germany, was asked about criticism he receives and said he couldn’t understand what the Scot’s issue with him was.
“I don’t know what his problem is with me,” he said with a laugh.
“I try not to read it, obviously it’s difficult when he’s on talkSPORT or Sky Sports and it’s everywhere around the training ground at times.
“He was obviously a great player, I don’t know what it is with what he says about me or what problem he’s got.
“I know my own ability. I know before he used to say a lot of stuff about me not moving the ball quicker.
“But you know, when I’m playing for a manager like Pep Guardiola and he’s telling me to keep the ball as much as I can and have balls to take everywhere, that’s what I’ll try and do.
“So, you know I’m obviously always going to have people [commenting] if I’m not playing well. Listen, I know within myself [if I’m not playing well], I always watch my games back and stuff like this and I’m very critical of myself.”
Grealish made 39 appearances for Pep Guardiola’s side in his first season at City as the club secured their sixth Premier League title.
However, he also only netted once and provided one assist in the Premier League after scoring in their win at home to Leeds back in December.
Fast forward to this season, the 27-year-old was out injured for three games after picking up a knock during City’s win over Bournemouth, and was also benched for the game against his former side at Villa Park.
Despite his inconsistent game time, though, Guardiola defended his forward before he got off the mark against Wolves, saying: “I’m more than happy and delighted with what he’s doing.
“Now it’s just a question of time to get back a little bit of his momentum he had at the beginning of the season.”
Grealish says that he knows he still needs to get up to speed still and thinks criticism – such as Souness’ comments – is expected during that time.
He continued: “I know there were games, especially in the second half of last season, where I wasn’t at my best at all. Unfortunately for me, I came back in pre-season fit, had a strong pre-season then got injured in the second game.
“That’s when I said from now on I’m just going try and get my head down and try and get that fitness back. I know I’m not 100 per cent yet. I think I’ve only played one 90 minutes this season.
“But yeah, I think I’ll probably always have people on the back of me, but I’ve just got to try and perform.”
Grealish appears to take everything in his stride, admitting scrutiny “probably affects my family more than it does me” having learned to deal with it over the years.
“It’s more if someone like my mum or my dad was saying it, I’d listen a lot more,” he said ahead of England’s Nations League clash in Italy on Friday.
“But, yeah, sometimes when people are saying it – whether it be trolls on Twitter or Instagram or stuff like that – that doesn’t bother me at all.
“I think that’s just part and parcel of what we have playing for the national team and playing for big clubs in England.
“I don’t think I’m the only one, I think there’s quite a few. I think we just have to learn to deal with that.
“Obviously over time I’ve learned to deal with it.
“When I signed for Man City and the price and stuff that came with it, I knew it wasn’t going to all be laughs, unless I started the way Erling Haaland did. I think that’s the only way I wouldn’t get caned!
“Obviously I’m not going to sit here and say ‘nothing ever affects me’ because it does sometimes. I’m a 27-year-old kid so I’ve had to learn to deal with that.”
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