Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish is ‘Lionel Messi with a right foot’ and the ‘most talented player’ former Arsenal goalkeeper Emi Martinez has ever seen
Aston Villa goalkeeper Emi Martinez sees similarities between Jack Grealish and Argentina superstar Lionel Messi.
Grealish, 25, has emerged as one of England’s most electrifying talents with an incredible 2020/21 campaign for Villa.
Former Arsenal keeper Martinez has trained with Messi on international duty – and insists Grealish reminds him of the six-time Ballon d’Or winner.
“He [Grealish] is the most talented player I’ve ever seen,” Martinez said ahead of Aston Villa’s trip to Brighton this Saturday – live on talkSPORT 2.
“He never gives the ball away. When I see Grealish running, it’s always a shot on target or a corner for us. He will drive past two or three players.
“I just see Messi with a right foot when he has the ball. You can’t get the ball off him.
“He’s the most talented English player and I’m surprised he hasn’t played more games for England.
“Messi is Messi, he’s the best ever. But in terms of training, when Jack has the ball, people don’t want to tackle him, they respect him, he can finish, he can chop, he can do everything.
“When I train with Messi for the national team, it’s the same. Nobody wants to touch him, he chops people, he treats players like cones.
“I see that with Jack here.”
It was revealed last year that Barcelona actually ban hard tackles on Messi in training to protect the 33-year-old, such is his value.
As far as influence goes, Grealish plays a similar role for a Villa side who are exceeding everyone’s expectations in the Premier League this season, challenging for Europe when many thought they’d be fighting relegation.
Both Messi and Grealish could be on the move this summer: the Barcelona superstar looks set to leave the Nou Camp on a free, with his contract expiring and no likelihood of a renewal following his public fallout with the Spanish giants last year.
Meanwhile, Grealish’s future is the source of constant speculation, with Manchester United continuously linked with the £100m-rated star.