Noel Whelan has warned Aston Villa winger Anwar El Ghazi of the “massive gulf” in the Premier League after finding himself benched against Everton on Friday night.
The former Leeds United striker, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, insists that the 24-year-old has all the attributes to make a success of himself among England’s elite but that he has to adapt to the quality of defenders in the top flight.
El Ghazi started on the bench in the 2-0 win against the Toffees, coming on to score the Villans’ second in injury-time to settle the nerves and secure their first points of the new season.
Whelan insists that the former Ajax and Lille forward possesses the skills to cause Premier League defences problems but that he needs to make the step up from what he produced in the Championship.
Whelan told Football Insider: “I think it’s difficult when you make the step up from Championship to Premier League. You’re playing against international defenders every week.
“The quality is a massive gulf. He’s definitely got the ability, he really has – the strength, trickery, he’s got everything you want from a winger but he’s got to start getting to grips with the Premier League.
“If you’re going to stand out, you’re going to have to raise your game.”
El Ghazi, who turned his loan move from Lille permanent over the summer, was a regular for the Villans last season, especially after Dean Smith’s appointment, with 36 appearances, five goals and six assists across all competitions.
He had started the first two Premier League games but was replaced by Jota in the starting XI against Everton, the former Birmingham man setting up Wesley for the opening goal of the game.