Jack Grealish is ready to play his way into Manchester City’s side and challenge for top honours after completing a British-record £100m transfer.
The Premier League champions had been heavily linked with England midfielder Grealish all summer, and Villa chief executive Christian Purslow confirmed City had met their valuation to trigger the release clause in their captain’s contract.
Grealish, 25, has signed a six-year deal with City and will wear the number 10 shirt, which was recently vacated by the departure of long-serving striker Sergio Aguero.
The midfielder, who still had four years remaining on his Villa contract, developed into one of English football’s hottest properties.
Grealish scored six goals in the Premier League last season, also providing 10 assists, and went on to help England reach the final of Euro 2020 at Wembley.
Having now finally completed his switch to the Etihad Stadium, Grealish is confident he can soon become an integral part of Pep Guardiola’s team.
“There are obviously a lot of reasons why I decided to come here,” Grealish said on the Manchester City club website.
“The manager has been a massive factor; playing under the best manager in the world was something I couldn’t really turn down, (and) obviously the players that we have got here.
“Competing for major trophies is something that I wanted to do. It was something I couldn’t turn down. Let’s hope it is a successful one.”
Grealish added: “It (competition for places) is something that I thrive off and I think everyone needs to be kept on their toes.
“There is so much talent here and I just cannot wait to get in and amongst it and speak with these guys. I still think I am young, I am only 25, so I can still learn from all these people.
“I can’t wait to do that, to play and train with them and just be in and around them. You can learn from these people and I cannot wait to get started and to get playing.”
Birmingham-born Grealish admitted it was not an easy decision to leave his boyhood club after 19 years.
“I’ve come up through the ranks and captained my club back to the top tier of English football. It’s impossible to put my feelings into words, but I’ll try,” he said in a post on his official Twitter account.
“When I first came to Villa I had my own personal dreams and ambitions like getting into the first team, scoring my first goal and scoring the winner in a derby. It wasn’t until we got relegated that I felt a greater sense of purpose.
“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.
“I want to thank the manager and my teammates, I’ll never forget everything we achieved together… and to the fans who have supported me through everything, I can’t thank you enough.
“All my coaches and all the people who work at the club behind the scenes who have done so much for me over the years – thank you.
“I’ll always be a Villa fan – I love this club with all my heart and I hope you understand my reasons for seeking a new challenge.
“The club are in great hands, the manager, the lads, the new signings coming in – it’s an exciting time to be a Villa fan.
“I’ll see you all again soon. Until next time. UTV, Jack”
Following confirmation of the deal, Villa chief executive Christian Purslow posted a video on the club’s social media channels to explain the background to the transfer.
Purslow confirmed they had agreed to a release clause should a Champions League club come in for Grealish and meet the £100m price tag which “set the value at a level we hoped would not be met, but which would reflect his truly unique value to Aston Villa”.
Villa also felt bringing in the likes of Emiliano Buendia, in a club-record deal from Norwich, Leon Bailey and forward Danny Ings from Southampton would go some way to help to fill the void left by Grealish’s departure.
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