Manchester United missed out on the opportunity to sign Jack Grealish, as the player has revealed that he was ‘really close’ to completing a move to Old Trafford in the summer of 2020.
“I was really close to going [to Manchester United], but nothing happened in the end,” he told The Telegraph ahead of a potential return to Villa Park for City’s game on Wednesday night.
“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,” Grealish added.
Grealish also admitted that walking away from Villa was hard, but Champions League football was too much to pass up on.
“You only get one shot at your career and it just flies by,” he continued. “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.
“You look at most of my England team-mates – I was probably one of the last to play [in the] Champions League. I’ve played four times in it now and loved every moment.
“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.”
Grealish admits to tough adaptation period at City
“It’s been harder than I expected,” Grealish said to The Telegraph when asked about how he has found life at City since his £100m move.
“I’ve found it a lot more difficult than I thought I would, adapting to a different manager and teammates. 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.”
However, City manager Pep Guardiola believes that Grealish is being too hard on himself, claiming that the attacking midfielder needs to give himself more credit.
“If you analyse the games [and whether] he played bad. Absolutely not. With the quality he has it is difficult to play bad. But the way we played and the expectations every few days… It is completely different to what he lives at Aston Villa. But he did it incredibly well there.
“Now he comes back from the international break injured and now hopefully come back step by step to his best form.”
Guardiola, however, still expects a lot more from Grealish in the remainder of the season, saying that City ‘will be in trouble’ if Grealish isn’t at his best.
“I don’t think so, we will be in trouble! We have to see it right now, the best of course. Absolutely not, I am not thinking the best of Jack Grealish we will see next season. I want to see it this season!”
Gerrard wants a warm welcome for Grealish at Villa Park
Aston Villa manager Steven Gerrard has urged Villa supporters to give Grealish a warm reception if the 26-year-old is fit enough to make the trip from Manchester.
“Jack very much deserves a warm welcome. I have no doubt he will get that, this is his club and it will be when his career is over because he was here as a little boy,” Gerrard said in his pre-match conference.
“He came through the academy, the club has benefited a lot from what Jack has given and we very much wish him well in terms of the remainder of his career. But obviously not tomorrow for 90 minutes!
“I can feel what he has been through because I have been there myself when you have that opportunity to move on from your club.”