If the rest of the country didn’t realise just how good Jack Grealish is, then his performances for England over the past week certainly would have helped them do exactly that.
The Aston Villa talisman has been the undoubted star for the Three Lions, with Gareth Southgate quick to hail him even after a 2-0 UEFA Nations League defeat to Belgium.
He said: “Today was a great game for us to see him in. I couldn’t speak highly enough of his performance. I thought Jack Grealish had an absolutely outstanding game. I saw what I knew I would see from Jack, someone with the bravery to play. He took the ball in tight areas, his technique was good, we knew he would buy a lot of free-kicks. I thought he was outstanding – he should be delighted.”
Grealish’s importance at club level is unquestioned, but Dean Smith could really ease some of the pressure on his shoulders with another creative, goal-scoring force. And Florian Thauvin is exactly that.
After former Marseille coach Franck Passi suggested that the Ligue 1 side’s financial problems could see him leave on the cheap, Thauvin – who was linked with a move to Villa in the summer – could be the man to complete a dream attack for Smith.
Whilst Bertrand Traore is similarly left-footed and plays on the right, Thauvin is just far more of a creative presence. As per Sofascore, he has averaged an impressive 2.2 key passes per game in Ligue 1 this season, and also boasts two successful dribbles per match too.
Toulouse coach Alain Casanova called him “a player in the image of Franck Ribéry … someone who is able to disrupt any opponent, someone very dangerous when he picks up speed. Very dangerous indeed.”
Grealish on the other hand has managed 2.9 key passes and 2.9 dribbles in the Premier League, picking up the same number of assists as Thauvin (5).
Having the two of them in the same team and playing off either flank could give summer signing Ollie Watkins even more ammunition to feed off, and add to their already fearsome goal-scoring record – Villa’s tally of 18 goals in the Premier League is currently only bettered by that of Tottenham and Chelsea.
If Johan Lange can add Thauvin add to their ranks, then it could be a real game-changer for them.