MANCHESTER: English football’s £100 million man Jack Grealish knows how Lionel Messi feels after saying his own tearful farewell to Aston Villa.
Argentine superstar Messi shed tears as he confirmed his departure from boyhood club Barcelona on Sunday (Aug 8) and Grealish, Manchester City’s record signing but a lifelong Villa fan, told reporters on Monday he could relate to that.
“Everyone has seen the way Messi was at his final press conference,” said Grealish, who signed a six-year contract with City and has been assigned the number 10 shirt previously worn by all-time top scorer Sergio Aguero.
“That is the exact way I felt myself. Actually before I left at the hotel I spoke to the team and the staff and the players and, yeah, you know I teared up a bit myself.”
Grealish, an Aston Villa season ticket holder from the age of four, said leaving was one of the toughest decisions he had ever made but he could not turn down the opportunity to play at the top.
The 25-year-old midfielder explained that he had joined the Premier League champions to win trophies and cement his position with England.
“I’ve always said how much I wanted to play Champions League football and I couldn’t do that at Villa this year,” he said.
“I have come here to win silverware and play in the Champions League, so that is my only focus now.”
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has said the move can take Grealish to another level and the player agreed with that assessment.
“I’ve been here two days and the way he is in training is unbelievable. I can’t actually believe it,” he said.
“Pep was a massive factor in me coming here.”
Grealish said the price tag would not put any extra pressure on him.
“It probably hasn’t sunk in actually. It means so much to me the club were willing to spend that money on me.
“No pressure with the price tag, it just shows how much the club and manager value me… I only see it as a good thing. I hope I can repay the football club by winning titles and winning that trophy that we all want.”
City lost out in last season’s Champions League final to league rivals Chelsea.