KEY POINTS

  • Jack Grealish joined Man City ahead of the 2021-22 campaign
  • Instead of joining United, Grealish had signed a new deal with Aston Villa
  • Grealish left Aston Villa for Champions League soccer

Jack Grealish has revealed he was "really close" to joining Manchester United in the summer of 2020. 

Grealish, who is the current most expensive signing in the Premier League having moved from Aston Villa to Manchester City at $133 million, joined the Etihad side during the 2021 summer market. 

Ex-Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wanted Grealish on his squad but back then, Aston Villa didn’t want to part ways with their skipper. Ahead of the 2020-21 campaign, Grealish signed a new deal with the Midlands club that included a $133 million release clause, which was triggered by Pep Guardiola’s side in the summer of 2021. 

"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'," Grealish told The Telegraph ahead of returning to Villa Park on Wednesday. 

"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," added Grealish, who has also admitted that it was tough to bid goodbye to his boyhood club.

The 26-year-old midfielder chose to leave Aston Villa only to play Champions League. 

"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 teammates – I was probably one of the last to play [in the] Champions League," Grealish said further in the same interview.

Grealish has made four Champions League appearances for Manchester City this season, scoring one and assisting as many. 

"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," added Grealish. 

£100 million man: Manchester City have broken the Premier League transfer record on Jack Grealish £100 million man: Manchester City have broken the Premier League transfer record on Jack Grealish Photo: AFP / Lindsey Parnaby

The young England national has started all the four Champions League games for City in 2021-22, while he has also bagged a total of nine starts in the Premier League.