Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has come to the defense of record signing Jack Grealish, saying he is not being judged on how many goals and assists he creates during his time on the pitch.
Grealish, 27, arrived at the club last year in a £100million move that made him the most expensive British player in history but has only been able to contribute six goals and four assists in a City shirt.
He has started one Premier League game this season, and both Champions League fixtures so far, although he has been substituted off in both continental games, including in this past week's 2-1 win against Borussia Dortmund.
Guardiola made an effort to shift the blame away from Grealish when his performance against Dortmund was questioned, pointing the finger at his supporting cast not making his life easier.
"He started really well, but had to stop for a problem in the ankle and we were lucky it was not worse," he said.
"Last game in the final third he was the only one up front who makes aggressive runs one against one, but [he couldn't] make assists [because] he didn’t have his mates in the box, so we left him isolated. When he goes against the full-back, only Erling [Haaland] was there.
"[Ilkay] Gundo[gan] was not there, Kevin [De Bruyne] was not there and they should be there. In the first half especially with the ball, we didn’t make any movements to help the players who had the ball, and give him more possibilities to make it easier."
Guardiola added: "I know him and I’m more than happy and delighted with what he’s doing. Now… it's time to get back a little bit of his momentum that he had at the beginning of the season."
The manager with multiple Champions League titles was adamant that just goals and assists was not enough to judge a player like Grealish on, and shared what he is looking for out of the midfielder.
"We didn’t sign for the incredible goals or assists at Aston Villa," he said. "It was another reason, and when he played he did it.
"He competes with top, top players as well and he knows it perfectly, but never complains about that.
"He’s such a nice guy and in the games when he didn’t play, he’s the first to help the team and in the training sessions, he’s always there. I’m delighted with his behavior and everything.
"I want to make goals and I want to make assists and he does too, but it’s not about that. It’s about his contribution without the ball and what he can produce for the other ones and the many, many things that he’s able to do."