Jack Grealish is now the first country’s first £100m footballer
Credit: GETTY IMAGES
Jack Grealish has signed a six-year contract worth £115 million with Manchester City after becoming the most expensive player in the history of English football.
Grealish is now the first country’s first £100m footballer after City triggered the release clause in his contract with Aston Villa.
The move eclipses the previous Premier League record fee of £89m that Manchester United paid to sign Paul Pogba from Juventus in 2016.
Grealish’s deal with City, which runs until June 2027, will earn him up to £380,000 a week, taking into account bonuses, and makes him one of the highest paid players in the Premier League.
City could yet break the transfer record again before the close of the transfer window at the end of this month as they continue to pursue the £150m rated Tottenham striker Harry Kane.
Grealish, 25, will inherit the No 10 shirt recently vacated at City by Sergio Aguero, who left the club as a free agent after a decade this summer to join Barcelona. He could make his debut in the Community Shield against Leicester at Wembley on Saturday.
Bernardo Silva may leave City to make way for Grealish’s arrival. Barcelona are thought to be the £60m rated Portugal playmaker’s preferred destination although the Catalan club’s financial difficulties means a deal could be complex. Several other leading European clubs are thought to be monitoring Bernardo’s situation.
Grealish issued an emotional farewell on Thursday night to Villa, his boyhood club where he spent the last 19 years, but said he was joining City after being enticed by the lure of winning trophies and playing under manager Pep Guardiola.
“I am incredibly happy to have joined Manchester City,” Grealish said.
“City are the best team in the country with a manager considered to be the best in the world – it’s a dream come true to be part of this club.
“Over the past 10 seasons, they have won major trophies consistently. Pep coming here has taken them to the next level and the football this team plays is the most exciting in Europe.
“To play for Pep and learn from him is going to be special and it’s something any top footballer would want. The facilities are amazing, and I honestly can’t wait to get started, meet everyone and get playing.”
Christian Purslow, the Villa chief executive, explained the circumstances behind Grealish’s departure in an instructive five minute address to fans on Thursday night. Purslow said once Grealish had signalled his wish to leave it was the club’s intention to bring in three players to replace him and believes in signing Emi Buendia, Leon Bailey and Danny Ings they have “reduced an over dependence on one brilliant footballer”.
Txiki Begiristain, City’s director of football, believes Grealish is the “perfect match” for the club.
“Jack’s development over the past few seasons both for club and country has been plain for everybody to see,” Begiristain said. “His natural talent together with his commitment to improve as a player, has seen him become one of the most exciting attacking players in world football today.
Txiki Begiristain, City’s director of football, believes Grealish (pictured) is the “perfect match” for the club
Credit: GETTY IMAGES
“I am certain that the fans are going to love seeing him in our team.
“Pep loves the way he plays, and we all feel he is an ideal fit for Manchester City. Our style and his style are a perfect match.”
City will now focus their efforts on trying to land Kane, who has yet to report at Tottenham as the England captain tries to push through a move to the champions, who are still targeting a net spend of around £50m this summer.
City have raised almost £110m through sales over the past 12 months, including the £55m departure of Leroy Sane to Bayern Munich which was not included in the club’s accounts for 2019/20, and believe they could bring in at least another £50m through outgoings before Aug 31.
Nottingham Forest are considering a £9m bid for Morgan Rodgers and Ivan Ilic, Pedro Porro and Yangel Herrera could also depart.
Grealish expressed his gratitude to Villa and insisted he would “always be a Villa fan”.
❤️ @AVFCOfficial pic.twitter.com/gA2SbUspbP
— Jack Grealish (@JackGrealish) August 5, 2021
"Every time I put on the Villa shirt I played with my heart on my sleeve, being given the armband was both a privilege and an honour for me and my family and I’ve loved every minute of it," he said.
"I want to thank the manager and my team-mates, I’ll never forget everything we achieved together … and to the fans who have supported me through everything, I can’t thank you enough.
"I love this club with all my heart and I hope you understand my reasons for seeking a new challenge."