Premier League English

Pep Guardiola says Man City club-record signing Jack Grealish must reach his best this season

Jack Grealish entered the Etihad from Aston Villa for a British record-thumping £100m in the summer and the  England international, who has logged two goals in 15 games so far this season, could be up to face his former club at Villa Park on Wednesday upon his return from injury.

And his new boss Pep Guardiola has said that the former Aston Villa ace must produce his best in the remainder of the season while praising the way the club’s record signing has settled in at Manchester City.

In an interview with the Daily Telegraph on Tuesday, Grealish was candid in admitting he has found playing at City tougher than he had first anticipated since leaving his boyhood club, having scored only two goals in his 15 appearances for the club so far.

When asked if it may require until next season before one could see the best of Grealish, Guardiola immediately responded: “I don’t think so, we will be in trouble! We have to see it right now, the best of course. We have six or seven months ahead of us.

“Absolutely not, I am not thinking the best of Jack Grealish we will see next season. I want to see it this season!”

Clearly, despite wanting more, Guardiola is not unhappy with Grealish’s initial impact at the Etihad Stadium.

“I would say he settled perfectly. I think it is easy because he knows many English players here and the other guys are sometimes too much (sic) nice people,” Guardiola added.

“It is not a problem, he plays good, he has to finish to settle, to find a real apartment to live in. You always need a little bit of time.

“If you analyse the games [and whether] he played bad. Absolutely not. With the quality he has it is difficult to play bad. But the way we played and the expectations every few days… It is completely different to what he lives at Aston Villa. But he did it incredibly well there.

“The commitment with the club was amazing, going in the second division he could leave [but] to stay there and to be promoted and then stay there in the first division. The second season in the first division was incredible.

“Now he comes back from the international break injured and now hopefully come back step by step to his best form.”

Immediately now prior to the trip to Villa, City sit second in the Premier League, one point adrift of league leaders Chelsea, and have qualified for the knockout stages of the Champions League with a game to spare.

New Villa boss Steven Gerrard has urged Villa supporters to extend a warm welcome to Grealish if the Manchester City midfielder is indeed fit to play against his boyhood club on Wednesday, after leaving Villa for £100m in the summer.

“Jack very much deserves a warm welcome. I have no doubt he will get that, this is his club and it will be when his career is over because he was here as a little boy,” Gerrard said on Tuesday.

“He came through the academy, the club has benefited a lot from what Jack has given and we very much wish him well in terms of the remainder of his career. But obviously not tomorrow for 90 minutes!

“I can feel what he has been through because I have been there myself when you have that opportunity to move on from your club.”