EPL

Grealish to Man City: Villa reveal Champions League promise as Jack tells fans 'I hope you understand'

By Sports Desk August 05, 2021

Aston Villa have confirmed they received a record £100million fee for Jack Grealish, who addressed the fans of his hometown club after leaving for Manchester City.

Premier League champions City announced the signing of Grealish on a six-year contract on Thursday.

A £100m fee – a record for a Premier League club – was widely reported, and Villa CEO Christian Purslow confirmed that amount in a message to fans.

City's bid – one of several approaches from numerous clubs – triggered a release clause agreed with Grealish at the start of last season, Purslow explained.

"Last summer, following interest from a number of clubs, we offered Jack a new contract to stay at the club, which he accepted with one proviso," Purslow said in a video message.

"Jack wanted to be certain that if at any point a Champions League club came in for him and Aston Villa was not in that competition, that we would not stand in his way.

"For that reason, we agreed to incorporate a so-called release clause into his contract.

"Our board set this clause at a value of £100m, knowing that would be by some way a record price for a British footballer and also a record fee for any player bought by a Premier League club.

"Put another way, we set the value at a level we hoped would not be met but which would reflect his truly unique value to Aston Villa.

"After a brilliant season for Jack, culminating in his performances at the Euros, a number of clubs expressed interest in signing him, initially at figures below the release clause. We simply refused to entertain those approaches.

"Finally, Manchester City notified us that they would be willing to pay the £100m it would take to trigger this clause.

"After many hours of discussions involving Jack, his family and his agent, during which we made clear our strong desire for him to stay at Aston Villa, Jack finally decided that he would like to go to City and instructed us to exercise his release clause as was his prerogative."

As Purslow spoke to the Villa fans on Thursday, so did boyhood fan Grealish, who had captained the side since 2019.

In a statement on his social media page, he said in part: "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."

Purslow explained how difficult the decision had been for Grealish, saying: "It was a highly emotional moment when he finally told me his decision, leaving me in no doubt how hard it had been for him to decide to leave our club, which he joined when he was six years old.

"Ultimately, he said it boiled down to wanting to play Champions League football now."

Indicating the mutual respect between player and board, Grealish's statement continued: "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."

Villa have already signed Emiliano Buendia, Leon Bailey and Danny Ings, three players for combined fees amounting to close to £100m.

Purslow confirmed the club had planned to replace Grealish – who scored six goals and added 10 assists last season – with a trio of stars rather than going for a single like-for-like buy.

"I want you all to be reassured that the board, Dean Smith, Johan Lange and I obviously knew this day might come and we have planned accordingly," he said.

"It was never our intention to replace Jack with one footballer, our strategy was to analyse and break down Jack's key attributes – his creativity, his assists, his goals – and to find these qualities and others in three forward players.

"In signing Emiliano Buendia, Leon Bailey and Danny Ings, we believe we have achieved this key objective and in doing so have also reduced an overdependency on one brilliant footballer."

Injuries limited Grealish to 26 league appearances last season, in which Villa had an outstanding 50 per cent winning record.

That dropped to 25 per cent in the 12 matches he missed, with their points-per-game return falling from 1.7 to 1.0.

Villa will hope their three lucrative signings will ensure those statistics are not repeated, with their creative talents set to boost a side that scored only 1.1 goals per game without Grealish.

Related items

  • Fritz scrapes past Cressy to take Eastbourne title again Fritz scrapes past Cressy to take Eastbourne title again

    Taylor Fritz earned his third ATP Tour title and second at the Eastbourne International as he defeated fellow American Maxime Cressy 6-2 6-7 (4-7) 7-6 (7-4) in Saturday's final.

    Three years on from Fritz's breakthrough tour triumph against Sam Querrey – another compatriot – at the same event, the world number 24 was celebrating again in the last tournament before Wimbledon.

    Paris-born opponent Cressy had defeated a trio of home hopefuls in succession in Britons Dan Evans, Cameron Norrie and Jack Draper to reach this stage, but Fritz had just too much.

    While the Indian Wells Masters champion had not lost a break all week and maintained that record through the decider, he was taken all the way.

    "I played about as well as I could possibly play today, and it still came down to the final couple of points," Fritz said afterwards. "It couldn't have been much closer."

    That had not appeared likely after an opener in which Fritz's return game dominated 6ft 6in serve-and-volley specialist Cressy, who was broken immediately following a double-fault.

    That was one of four in the first set – as many as in three against Draper – as Cressy won just half of his service points, broken again to love.

    Yet neither player faced another break point, with a pair of tie-breaks required to settle the title.

    The first went the way of Cressy, forcing a decider as a pair of powerful forehands finally broke down Fritz, but he required treatment between sets and had clearly tired by the closing stages.

    The latest in a series of Fritz lobs proved beyond Cressy, not that the result should have come as any surprise – improving the champion's career record in deciding tie-breaks to an astonishing 20-3.

  • Bronze 'scored one of them in training', says Williamson after England and Barcelona star's bizarre goal Bronze 'scored one of them in training', says Williamson after England and Barcelona star's bizarre goal

    England captain Leah Williamson was full of praise for Lucy Bronze after the Lionesses emphatic 5-1 friendly win against the Netherlands on Friday.

    Bronze, Beth Mead, who netted a double, Ella Toone and Lauren Hemp scored to seal an emphatic victory for Sarina Wiegman's side in Leeds.

    England had fallen 1-0 behind to a Lieke Martens header, before Bronze put a cross into the box that somehow found its way into the net.

    A Netherlands penalty was missed by the Dutch captain, Sherida Spitse, who was making her 200th international appearance, before the hosts put on a show in the second half at Elland Road, bagging four more goals to ease to victory.

    "Lucy scored one of them in training yesterday, so I was trying to tell her to take it," a smiling Williamson told Stats Perform after the game. "But at the end of the day she's got forward and we've seen her in that position so many times that when she gets there she'll take it for the team.

    "But also the state of the game and the penalty, it's not great, but our reaction after, you can't change that."

    Following the win, Netherlands boss Mark Parsons said England are favourites for next month's Women's Euro 2022 tournament, and Williamson was asked if teams are playing against them with some fear.

    "A little bit, I think, we're playing well, we're the home nation. It's a brilliant combo to have," she said. 

    "Other countries will potentially look at the score lines and think 'Yeah, England are doing really well,' But I think we've just got to stay focused on what we're doing and what our job is.

    "We know that even though we won 5-1 tonight, there was many things that we can work on, and get better at. Being clinical is something that we've wanted to improve on and we've obviously done that tonight and in a lot of the games previously with Sarina [Wiegman].

    "I mean, if I was on another team, I don't really pay too much attention to score lines, because you don't know the ins and outs of the game. But I'm sure a lot of people will be speaking about us.

    "We're very much focused on the one game at a time cliche."

  • Wimbledon: Swiatek 'pretty overwhelmed' to see Serena back in SW19 Wimbledon: Swiatek 'pretty overwhelmed' to see Serena back in SW19

    Serena Williams' presence at Wimbledon has left world number one Iga Swiatek "pretty overwhelmed".

    Williams is making her long-awaited return to action at the All England Club, as the 40-year-old takes another shot at matching Margaret Court's record of 24 grand slam victories.

    The American has played only two competitive matches – both alongside Ons Jabeur in the doubles at the Eastbourne International – since she sustained a hamstring tear at last year's Wimbledon, but is back on a wildcard.

    Three years ago, Williams became the oldest player to reach Wimbledon's women's singles final when she lost to Simona Halep. Six years ago, she was the oldest champion when she beat Angelique Kerber, although it seems a long shot for her to be challenging for honours this time around.

    That is in part due to the remarkable form of top seed Swiatek, who heads to SW19 on the back of a 35-match winning streak that she is aiming to extend.

    The Pole was not born when Williams made her Wimbledon debut in 1998, but she was the junior champion at the All England Club in 2018 and has since won the French Open twice. She is aiming to become the first woman since Kerber in 2016 to win two singles slams in the same season.

    Yet Swiatek remains in awe of Williams.

    "I saw her yesterday, I was pretty overwhelmed," said Swiatek in a news conference on Saturday.

    "I didn't know how to react. I wanted to meet her. I saw that she had so many people around her. I don't know her team. It was pretty weird.

    "But just seeing her around is great because she's such a legend, there's nobody that has done so much in tennis.

    "I'm pretty sure that she's going to be in good shape because she has so much experience coming back from breaks or just playing in grand slams. I think she can use it."

    Swiatek has never progressed past the fourth round of the singles at Wimbledon and will be making her first appearance of the season on grass when she takes on Jana Fett on Tuesday.

    "Honestly I still feel like I need to figure out grass," she said. "Last year for sure, it was that kind of tournament where I didn't know what to expect.

    "Then match by match I realised maybe I can do more and more.

    "I didn't have a lot of time to prepare. But I'm just trying to stay open-minded and kind of take positives from the situation and realise that I can play without any expectations."

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.