Kevin De Bruyne thinks criticism of Jack Grealish is too focused on his personal life as he backed the England midfielder to deliver.
Belgium international De Bruyne feels the spotlight is on his £100m Manchester City team-mate because of his nationality and, if he was a foreign player, he would have to adapt.
Grealish scored his first goal of the season in Saturday’s 3-0 Premier League triumph over 10-man Wolves.
The 27-year-old had been criticized for his lack of goals and assists – it was only his fourth top-flight strike since joining City from boyhood club Aston Villa in August 2021 – but De Bruyne think some of the reviews are only because he is English.
“Yeah, it’s not about football,” he said. “Outside of football, the focus is more on them (the English players). I understand because they’re English and people tend to watch what’s going on more.
“I feel like foreign players, for example, if you have a night out, we’re not really checked that often. Whereas I feel like if an English player comes out, it’s always something share in the media.
“I think people are taking that on board. What he does in his private life, no one should care, but people do.
“I don’t think anyone necessarily thinks about how it felt to walk away for the first time and people think it’s always easy to do that.
“But there are a lot of hurdles that come up with moving clubs and houses and so on. You obviously know he needed time to settle in, but he’s fine. Be patient, I’m not too worried.
Grealish scored after just 53 seconds at Molineux before Erling Haaland and Phil Foden made it a comfortable victory that took City into the lead before Arsenal’s 3-0 win at Brentford on Sunday sent them back to the top.
Former Villa captain Grealish, who was the recipient of a reckless waist slit that saw Wolves defender Nathan Collins sent off in the first half, admitted after the game that judgment on his lack of final product was right.
But De Bruyne continued: “If you set yourself certain standards, everyone is going to measure you against those standards.
“With all due respect, he was at Villa before and if you lose a game sometimes it’s not the end of the world. But if we lose a game it’s different.
“We have to perform every week and win games.
“That’s the difference and what he’s had to adapt to. As long as we win the games and he does a good job for us, that’s all that matters.
“Obviously you want to score and get assists, but it’s not the end of the world.”
De Bruyne’s two assists for Grealish and Foden saw him equal Steven Gerrard’s total of 92 Premier League assists – in 287 fewer games.
“It’s good to help my team,” he said. “I tried to create as many chances as possible for my team and if they score I will get an assist.
“It works together and it’s good that I can do that. I’ve been doing the same since I’ve been here. It’s still going on.
Meanwhile, Pep Guardiola believes Kalvin Phillips can still feature at the World Cup after it was confirmed the midfielder may need shoulder surgery following the injury that forced him to leave the England squad this month.
“I think so but I’m not a doctor,” Guardiola said. “The doctor said the only solution at the moment was to do what he had to do.
“Any time he’s come out (dislocated) and the doctor says you’ve come out three or four times with the shoulder, the only solution is to do surgery.”