Manchester City (opens in new tab) boss Pep Guardiola concedes that Jack Grealish has been weighed down by his £100m price tag.
Grealish became the most expensive English player of all time when he joined City from Aston Villa (opens in new tab) in August last year.
But, despite making 22 starts as Guardiola's team retained their Premier League title, the England star largely flattered to deceive during his first season at the Etihad Stadium.
The 27-year-old has continued to come under scrutiny for his perceived lack of output early this term, but he emphatically answered his critics on Saturday by scoring the first goal of City's 3-0 win at Wolves (opens in new tab) after just 55 seconds.
Guardiola agrees that Grealish has felt the burden of his enormous transfer fee, though. Speaking after the game, he said (opens in new tab):
"Yeah, maybe. We have to admit it. He has to be who he is; that is all. Good moments, bad moments everyone has.
"The important thing is 'I am Jack Grealish; I play like I am; I go there with a good mentality and try to do the best for myself to help all of us'. That is all I want for him and everyone."
Grealish's goal was only his fourth for City in the Premier League (and his seventh in all competitions).
And it rather goes without saying that he'll want to kick on and rekindle his best form with the World Cup fast approaching.
Next up for City, it's the Manchester derby at home to Manchester United (opens in new tab); Grealish could hardly ask for a bigger stage on which to shine and further quieten his doubters.
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Tom Hancock started freelancing for FourFourTwo in April 2019 and has also written for The Analyst and When Saturday Comes, among others. He supports Wycombe Wanderers and has a soft spot for Wealdstone. A self-confessed statto, he has been known to watch football with a spreadsheet (or several) open...