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How Man City could line up with Jack Grealish

Manchester City have made Jack Grealish the most expensive player in British football history by spending £100m to sign him from boyhood club Aston Villa.

The next step is to see just how the England star will fit in at his new club.

Grealish primarily played as a left winger for Villa last season, occasionally lining up in a central attacking midfield role as a ‘number 10’. But The Athletic report that Guardiola views the 25-year-old more as a ‘number eight’ and intends to rotate him with Ilkay Gundogan in that slightly deeper central role than he has previously been seen in at Villa.

For now, at least, Grealish could end up more as a midfielder than a forward, although he retains that versatility to give Guardiola plenty of different options.

Guardiola has so many elite options in attacking areas of the pitch that a limited number of starts have frustrated the likes of Bernardo Silva and Raheem Sterling. The former is increasingly expected to leave, while the latter is seeking assurances about his role before committing his future.

City are also in the market for a new striker, with Harry Kane a top target. However, with the complicated nature of pursuing the expensive Spurs star, there are no guarantees.

If ‘number 8’ is Guardiola’s preference for Grealish that could be the position he is used in most often, particularly in his first few months at the club.

Assuming he rotates that role with Gundogan and is joined in midfield by Rodri and Kevin De Bruyne, the main variations would be ahead of him on the wings.

– Rodri (DM), Grealish (CM), De Bruyne (CM/AM), Foden (LW), Mahrez (RW), Striker TBC

– Rodri (DM), Grealish (CM), De Bruyne (CM/AM), Sterling (LW), Mahrez (RW), Striker TBC

– Rodri (DM), Grealish (CM), De Bruyne (CM/AM), Foden (LW), Torres (RW), Striker TBC

– Rodri (DM), Grealish (CM), De Bruyne (CM/AM), Sterling (LW), Torres (RW), Striker TBC

Jack Grealish

Grealish usually played on the left for Villa last season / Malcolm Couzens/Getty Images

When Gundogan plays, that doesn’t have to mean that Grealish doesn’t. The majority of his appearances last season were on the left flank and he could make an impact there for City.

It also offers Guardiola the opportunity to rest De Bruyne and push Phil Foden slightly deeper.

– Rodri (DM), Gundogan (CM), De Bruyne (CM/AM), Grealish (LW), Mahrez (RW), Striker TBC

– Rodri (DM), Gundogan (CM), De Bruyne (CM/AM), Grealish (LW), Torres (RW), Striker TBC

– Rodri (DM), Gundogan (CM), Foden (CM/AM), Grealish (LW), Torres (RW), Striker TBC

– Rodri (DM), Gundogan (CM), Foden (CM/AM), Grealish (LW), Mahrez (RW), Striker TBC

It would be a similar situation if Grealish was to be used on the right flank.

– Rodri (DM), Gundogan (CM), De Bruyne (CM/AM), Sterling (LW), Grealish (RW), Striker TBC

– Rodri (DM), Gundogan (CM), De Bruyne (CM/AM), Foden (LW), Grealish (RW), Striker TBC

– Rodri (DM), Gundogan (CM), Foden (CM/AM), Sterling (LW), Grealish (RW), Striker TBC

Jack Grealish

Grealish played centrally in his only start at Euro 2020 / Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images

If Guardiola wanted the solidity of Rodri and Gundogan in midfielder but was keen on resting De Bruyne, Grealish could feature in an attacking midfield or ‘number 10’ role.

That would still give him the opportunity to play centrally but perhaps provides greater structure in tougher games.

– Rodri (DM), Gundogan (CM), Grealish (CM/AM), Sterling (LW), Mahrez (RW), Striker TBC

– Rodri (DM), Gundogan (CM), Grealish (CM/AM), Foden (LW), Mahrez (RW), Striker TBC

– Rodri (DM), De Bruyne (CM), Grealish (CM/AM), Foden (LW), Mahrez (RW), Striker TBC

– Rodri (DM), De Bruyne (CM), Grealish (CM/AM), Sterling (LW), Mahrez (RW), Striker TBC

– Rodri (DM), De Bruyne (CM), Grealish (CM/AM), Foden (LW), Torres (RW), Striker TBC

– Rodri (DM), Gundogan (CM), Grealish (CM/AM), Sterling (LW), Mahrez (RW), Striker TBC

– Rodri (DM), Gundogan (CM), Grealish (CM/AM), Sterling (LW), Torres (RW), Striker TBC

Pep Guardiola, Kevin De Bruyne

Pep Guardiola used Kevin De Bruyne as a ‘false 9’ in the Champions League last season / Alex Caparros/Getty Images

Guardiola favoured a ‘false 9’ setup in the Champions League last season. The attacking focal point was winger Ferran Torres in the group stage, but Kevin De Bruyne was pushed further forward from his usual midfield role to perform the job in the knockout stages and through to the final.

Seeing Grealish in that role on occasion if the game dictates wouldn’t be out of the question, although the likelihood of it continuing as a frequent tactic will be lessened significantly if City are successful in signing a new striker – potentially Harry Kane.

– Rodri (DM), Gundogan (CM), De Bruyne (CM/AM), Foden (LW), Mahrez (RW), Grealish (F9)

– Rodri (DM), Gundogan (CM), De Bruyne (CM/AM), Sterling (LW), Mahrez (RW), Grealish (F9)

– Rodri (DM), Gundogan (CM), De Bruyne (CM/AM), Sterling (LW), Torres (RW), Grealish (F9)

– Rodri (DM), Gundogan (CM), De Bruyne (CM/AM), Foden (LW), Torres (RW), Grealish (F9)

For more from Jamie Spencer, follow him on Twitter and Facebook!

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