The James Maddison and Jack Grealish debate has only been raging in the current Premier League season. The potential availability of the two clubs in the summer transfer window has made the comparisons even more interesting. While comparing is always of help, it doesn’t mean one is a better player.
The comparisons between Maddison and Grealish though, are different. It isn’t about who is the better player. It is about who is the more mature player. Once the other one acquires as much responsibility as the first one, he will be just as good. The similarities in styles are startling.
For a start, the tangible numbers aren’t too different. Grealish has a tally of seven goals and five assists, while Maddison has six goals and three assists. While the difference in numbers doesn’t mean much for two very talented players, further reading says a lot.
Maddison has a tally of 2.7 key passes per game- exactly the same as that of Grealish. While that does point out to similarities, Grealish’ tally of 2.4 dribbles per game is higher than Maddison’s tally of 1.8. And that points to certain differences.
Both are very similar in terms of picking out chance-creating passes in the final third. But Grealish is a better dribbler than Maddison and the aforementioned differences show that. Grealish is more into getting on the ball and driving forward with it- he thrives on that.
There are slight differences in their final product too. Grealish takes 2.2 shots per game– less than Maddison’s slightly higher tally. But despite that, he scores more. That is a clear sign of there being a little bit of wastefulness in how Maddison can go about things.
And perhaps, that is why Maddison underperforms on his XA by 1.50. But Grealish overperforms by 0.17. It shows that while one is already a well-furnished player, the other one is still growing into his own.
All of it gives the impression of Grealish being a little more well-rounded player. The reason for that could be one thing- his experience of playing at this level. This is Maddison’s only second season in the Premier League after the previous season was a one of settling in.
The England international was at Norwich for two seasons. One season had two loan deals- one with Coventry in the League One and the other with Aberdeen in the Premiership. None of them were too influential, as he got seven goals in total.
Grealish on the other hand, made his debut for the club when it was in the Premier League. He witnessed the club struggle and go down. He himself went through bad times and had off-field issues. When the club was in a financial crisis, he captained them to a move back to the Premier League. And that has made him mature as not just as a player, but as a character.
That maturity has brought in some street smartness in Grealish already. Which is why he is the most fouled player in the Premier League this season, picking up 4.8 fouls per game. He himself makes 0.9 fouls per game. It shows that this is more than just a player who scores and creates, he’s smart and knows how to be dirty.
And that, again, comes with time. Maddison and Grealish are very similar in the way they play and the positions they take up. And both are immensely talented players. But like every human, they’ve been through their own experiences and that has defined what they are today.
Grealish is quicker and is better suited to a left-wing position than Maddison, who takes part in attacking transitions more than Grealish. The differences are very few. But that can iron out as time goes on. One being slightly better than the other doesn’t mean the other one is bad. It is a case of ‘when’ rather than ‘if’.