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Jack Grealish

Grealish reveals how close he was to joining Man Utd and reacts to record-breaking £100m price tag

7:03 PM IST 30/11/21
Jack Grealish, Man City 2021-22
The England international ended up in Manchester when joining Premier League champions City, but he could have moved to Old Trafford in 2020

Jack Grealish has revealed that he was “really close” to joining Manchester United in 2020 and “couldn’t care less” about being the most expensive player in British football after making a £100 million ($133m) move to Manchester City in the last transfer window.

The England international has seen his stock soar over recent seasons, with a step up into the Premier League with Aston Villa in 2019 allowing him to rub shoulders with the elite.

It did not take long for interest in his services to be shown, with Old Trafford emerging as a potential landing spot at one stage, but Grealish eventually shunned those advances and committed to a new contract in the West Midlands.

What has been said?

The 26-year-old playmaker has told The Telegraph when asked about United’s efforts to do a deal: “I was really close to going, but nothing happened in the end.

“We played United in a pre-season game on Saturday and I wasn’t supposed to play in a cup game at Burton. But after the United game I said to [Christian] Purslow and my agent ‘if I’m not leaving, I’ll sign my new contract’.

“I went in with my dog on Tuesday morning, signed the deal, and played later that day. We all agreed on the clause and if any team hit that, it’s a win-win because it means I’ve had an unbelievable season and Villa got £100 million.”

The bigger picture

That clause was triggered by Premier League champions City in the summer of 2021, with the Blues able to succeed where the Red Devils had failed.

Explaining why he walked away from his boyhood club to form part of Pep Guardiola’s star-studded squad at the Etihad Stadium, Grealish said: “You only get one shot at your career and it just flies by.

“I feel Villa are going towards that [Europe] but I just didn’t know how long it was going to take for us. If I hadn’t come here, I would have regretted it forever. I remember hearing Michael Owen say the same about Real Madrid.

“You look at most of my England team-mates - I was probably one of the last to play [in the] Champions League. You could probably count two or three who haven’t, such as Kalvin Phillips or Sam Johnstone.

“I’ve played four times in it now and loved every moment. It’s completely different to the Premier League, a completely different standard and way of playing.

“It’s the one we all want to win. The manager has come here and won everything else, we’re all desperate to win it and I’ve come here to try and help them.”

He went on to say of form that has delivered just two goals and three assists through 15 appearances for City this season: “I’ve got so much more to give.

“I’ve found it a lot more difficult than I thought I would, adapting to a different manager and team-mates. At first I thought I’d have more of the ball, get more assists and goals but it doesn’t work like that at all. I’ve had nowhere near as much of the ball as I used to get at Villa.

“I wouldn’t say I’ve struggled, but I found it hard to get used to at the start. I’ve not had the assists and goals I got last season, but I’m never one to doubt myself.”

A man that has been stuck on the sidelines of late with an untimely knock added on the expectation he is now working under with a nine-figure price tag around his neck: “I couldn’t care less about that.

“There’s a spotlight on you but, if anything, it’s a nice thing to have as the first British £100 million player.”

Grealish will be hoping to play some part in City’s next outing as they are due to pay a visit to Villa Park on Wednesday.

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