Pep Guardiola has urged Jack Grealish to ignore his statistics and simply focus on playing his best for Manchester City.
England midfielder Grealish has not dominated games in the manner he became accustomed to at Aston Villa since his British record £100million move to City in the summer.
The 26-year-old even admitted in an interview in December he had found the transition “more difficult” than he expected and thought he would “get more assists and goals”.
Yet Guardiola insists he has been happy enough with Grealish’s performances and has told the player not to worry about what numbers, or people, are saying about him.
The City manager said: “Maybe he listened too much to what the people say and it’s wrong.
“Always we talk about the statistics. Players today play for the statistics, but this is the biggest mistake they can do.
“Statistics are just a bit of information that we have, but there are players that make the team play good and are not in the statistics.
“Players say, ‘How many goals (did) I score or how many assists’… this is the problem.
“These statistics never existed before. It’s how you play if you perform to your maximum, to your best, help your team-mates to make the process defensively and offensively better, that is enough. Thanks to that we are going to win.”
Grealish has not featured in City’s last four games due to a shin problem but was an unused substitute for Saturday’s Premier League victory at Everton.
He could return to action as City travel to Championship bottom side Peterborough in the FA Cup fifth round on Tuesday.
Grealish may have scored an underwhelming four goals this season, but Guardiola has no doubt that will improve.
“He plays quite similar to Aston Villa in terms of ball contact,” said Guardiola at a press conference.
“He had the chances against Crystal Palace in 20 minutes to score three goals. It didn’t happen, but it’s going to happen.
“We didn’t buy him to score 45 goals. He doesn’t have that quality but he has another one.
“He’s playing good, really. I wouldn’t tell you if he’s not playing good, but that’s not the case.”