Jack Grealish compared to Lionel Messi in glowing endorsement from Villa teammate

Aston Villa star Jack Grealish Lionel Messi

The plaudits keep rolling in for Aston Villa star Jack Grealish.

The 25-year-old has emerged as one of the most consistent attacking players in the Premier League since Villa returned to the top flight in 2019, earning admirers for his devilish style of dribbling and match-winning quality. 

Few players come close to him in English football right now, and his form has prompted vociferous calls for Gareth Southgate to start him on a regular basis at international level. 

His imperious style of play has drawn parallels with Three Lions legend Paul Gascoigne, but his Villa teammate Emiliano Martinez has taken the hype to a new level by comparing him to arguably the greatest footballer of all time. 

Indeed, while speaking to talkSPORT on Friday, Martinez claimed that there are shades of Lionel Messi in Grealish's ability to command respect from the opposition and use defenders like cones to dribble past. 

“He’s the most talented player I’ve ever seen. He just never gives the ball away.

“I catch a cross and I see Grealish running. I say, it’s a shot on target, or it’s a corner for, not against. He’ll drive past two, three players. I see Messi with the right foot when he’s on the ball.

“You can’t get the ball off him and I think he’s the most talented English player. I’m surprised that he doesn’t play many games for England.

“Messi is Messi, he’s the best ever. But in terms of training, when Jack is on the ball people don’t want to tackle him, they respect him on the ball. He can finish, he can chop, he can do everything and Messi is the same.

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“I can see in the national team when I train with Messi, nobody wants to touch him, he chops people, he uses people like cones.

“I see that with Jack here (Villa) and that’s why I compare him a little bit.”

It's almost as if the media has a problem with overhyping English players.

During a week in which Phil Foden has been hailed as the second-coming, Martinez has stayed on brand with arguably the highest compliment you can pay a professional footballer. 

In fairness to Martinez, he has played with both players and his analysis is clearly routed in genuine observation.

The comparison speaks to how highly Grealish is thought of behind the scenes at Villa having scored seven goals and assisted 12 this season.

If he carries this rich vein of form into the delayed Euro 2020 tournament, it might not be too long before the Messi comparison catches on.

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