Tottenham Hotspur fans will have been keeping a close eye on Jack Grealish on Saturday afternoon as Aston Villa kicked-off their play-off campaign at Villa Park.
Spurs have been repeatedly linked with the 23-year-old playmaker since last summer.
His decision to sign a new deal in September 2018 temporarily eased speculation, but the Daily Mail claimed on Friday that Grealish will leave the club if Villa fail in their bid to reach the top-flight.
Tottenham were identified as one of the clubs expressing an interest in his services, while Crystal Palace were also mentioned as they scout the market for a potential Wilfried Zaha replacement.
Saturday represented a perfect opportunity to take a closer look at Grealish’s credentials to make the switch to north London.
This was not Villa’s poster boy at his scintillating best but he still managed to provide two moments of quality as the hosts suddenly turned the game on its head. Firstly, he provided a perfectly weighted ball for Conor Hourihane to smash home an equaliser from the edge of the area, and just moments later he lured Kieran Gibbs into a dangerous lunge inside the penalty area and won his side a penalty to complete the turnaround.
But it was his movement throughout the game which pointed towards his suitability to Tottenham’s free-flowing system.
The attacking midfield contingent at Spurs, regardless of the personnel, are allowed to interchange and roam as they see fit, leaving defenders with the unenviable task of trying to mark specific individuals.
Take Lucas Moura, for example, a player who was renowned for his expertise on the right-wing when he arrived at the club who now regularly operates at centre-forward, number ten or in a vague attacking midfield position which allows for seamless fluidity and flair.
Against the Baggies Grealish was allowed the freedom to roam across the pitch as he dropped deep, oscillated from left to right and pushed closer to Tammy Abraham in the second half.
This was a quintessentially free-roaming performance from a man who has been unleashed by Dean Smith, and his license to play wide, central, deep and advanced has prepared him for the style he would be expected to adhere to at Tottenham.
Like Dele Alli, Christian Eriksen, Lucas, Erik Lamela and Son Heung-min, Grealish would be willing and versatile enough to thrive under the Argentine.