The agent of Manchester City forward Jack Grealish has slammed England manager Gareth Southgate’s handling of his client.
Grealish had knocked on the door of the senior Three Lions set up for some time. However, it was not until the start of last season that he made his debut. He did so in a 14-minute cameo against Denmark last September.
Since then, though, the 26-year-old has blossomed into a key player for his country.
Grealish starred with two assists as England reached the Euro 2020 final. Furthermore, he scored his first goal after 16 caps in the recent 5-0 rout of Andorra.
Nevertheless, he came off after 62 minutes of the 1-1 draw with Hungary. Grealish looked visibly frustrated at not being able to affect the game any further.
Just like at club level, he has serious competition for his England spot as Bukayo Saka replaced him. According to Grealish’s agent, though, there is no competition.
“He loves playing for England, he really does,” Jonathan Barnett, who is chairman of the ICM Stellar Group, told the Daily Mirror.
“He is very proud of it. It’s very important that he does well for England, very important.
“It was a mystery [why he was substituted]. It’s strange but maybe Gareth Southgate doesn’t think he fits into his type of team. He appears to have got into the England team by default.
“Gareth Southgate is the manager but in my opinion Jack is the best player in the country in that position.”
Grealish, Saka, Raheem Sterling and Phil Foden are among the fighters for the wide forward role – although Foden has showcased his ability to play deeper as well.
Grealish and Foden are battling for minutes at City, alongside Bernardo Silva, Gabriel Jesus and Riyad Mahrez.
For England, though, Barnett feels that there is a lot more to come from his client both for club and country.
Grealish can become one of the best
“He’s one of the few who will put bums on seats. People go along to watch him. I think Pep Guardiola and all the people at Manchester City are good judges,” the agent added.
“For them to lay out that sort of money [£100million], I think they know what they are doing. I don’t think you have seen the best of him yet. He could become one of the best players in the world.
“Unfortunately if he doesn’t play enough for England it will be England’s loss – but he will achieve great things with Manchester City.
“Going forward people will recognise him for what he is. I’m not going to lose any sleep over that. He will be a great asset for Manchester City and we hope for England.
“Most of the people watching and the so-called experts all said the same thing, he was the best player on the field against Hungary.”
Grealish remained on the bench – the first Premier League game he has not played this season – against Burnley on Saturday.