EPL

Grealish: I felt exactly like Messi when I left Aston Villa

By Sports Desk August 09, 2021

Jack Grealish felt the same as a tearful Lionel Messi did when announcing his Barcelona exit as he made the switch from boyhood club Aston Villa to Manchester City.

Grealish joined City for a British-record £100million fee on Thursday, the Premier League champions meeting the England midfielder's release clause to take him to the Etihad Stadium.

Confirmation of Grealish's transfer came on the same day Barcelona announced they would be unable to sign Messi to a new contract due to "financial and structural obstacles".

Messi, who is widely reported to be nearing a deal to join Paris Saint-Germain, then held an emotional media conference on Sunday as he confirmed the end of his 21-year stay at Camp Nou, with the Argentina superstar crying on stage before and after his remarks.

Grealish had been at Villa since the age of six and told reporters on Monday that he empathised with Messi.

"Everyone has seen the way Messi was at his final press conference," said Grealish.

"That is the exact way I felt myself.

"Before I left the hotel I spoke to the team, the staff and the players and I teared up a bit myself."

When Villa re-signed Grealish to a new contract last season, they did so while accepting his proviso that they would not stand in his way if a club playing Champions League football made an approach for him.

And he is relishing the chance to play in European club football's top competition, with City aiming to go one better in 2021-22 having lost the final to Chelsea last season.

"I felt like it was time for me to move on," Grealish added.

"I've always said how much I wanted to play Champions League football – I couldn't do that at Villa this year.

"I have come here to win silverware and play in the Champions League, so that is my only focus now."

Pep Guardiola revealed prior to Grealish's City debut in the Community Shield that he and Txiki Begiristain have long been admirers of the England international.

That admiration is mutual, Grealish insisting he is unburdened by his price tag and excited to work under the former Barca and Bayern Munich boss.

"I'm going to be learning from him every day and I genuinely cannot wait to work with him," Grealish explained.

"The way he is in training is unbelievable. The stuff he has certain players doing in certain positions – it is something I would never think of and it just works.

"Everyone here is so desperate to play under him. Pep was a massive factor in me coming here.

"When you see a football club paying that sort of money for a player, it means they trust you and value you highly and see so much potential there.

"I see it as a good thing and now I hope I can repay this football club by winning as many titles as possible and winning that [Champions League] trophy we all want."

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    Reports began circulating of a disturbance outside the ground as Cameroon claimed a 2-1 last-16 win on Monday, with local media and the Associated Press suggesting at the time that several people had been killed.

    The Confederation of African Football (CAF) said it was aware of the incident and was gathering "more details" on what had transpired.

    A statement released overnight by Cameroon's Ministry of Communications then confirmed that, after a "first assessment", eight people had lost their lives in the crush.

    Another 38 people were injured, with seven of those in a serious condition.

    The ministry did not immediately respond to Stats Perform's request for comment, but a widely reported statement read: "The Government of the Republic brings to the attention of the National and International Opinion that during the round-of-16 meeting which was played on Monday, January 24, 2022, between Indomitable Lions of Cameroon and the national team of the Union of Comoros, jostling occurred at the southern entrance to the Olembe Football Stadium.

    "The first assessment of these jostling reports: eight dead; and 38 injured, including 31 light [injuries] and seven serious.

    "The deceased were taken to the Yaounde Emergency Center for the appropriate formalities, and the injured were distributed to four health facilities in the city of Yaounde, where they were immediately taken care of, on very high instructions from the president of the republic, His Excellency Paul Biya."

    World football's governing body expressed its sympathies with those affected by the tragedy soon after.

    Its statement read: "FIFA sends its deepest condolences to the families and friends of the victims who lost their lives following the tragic incident that took place at Olembe Stadium during the Africa Cup of Nations fixture between Cameroon and Comoros.

    "The thoughts and prayers of the global football community are with the victims, the ones who have been injured in this incident, and all the staff of both CAF and the Cameroonian Football Association (FECAFOOT) at this difficult moment."

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    – After growing frustrated in their attempt to sign Dusan Vlahovic from Fiorentina, The Sun reports that Arsenal may now instead go after Real Madrid's Luka Jovic this month.

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    Newcastle United have made a fresh approach for Man Utd winger Jesse Lingard, according to The Telegraph. The Magpies are happy to pay a £6m loan fee.

  • Aubameyang has little chance of Arsenal future because 'they never knew how to forgive' – Adebayor Aubameyang has little chance of Arsenal future because 'they never knew how to forgive' – Adebayor

    Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has probably played his last game at Arsenal because the club never learnt "how to forgive", according to former Gunners striker Emmanuel Adebayor. 

    Aubameyang was stripped of the Arsenal captaincy in December for a disciplinary breach, which reportedly related to him returning late from a trip abroad. 

    It was by no means Aubameyang's first indiscretion, having also last year been reminded of his responsibilities after it was claimed he broke COVID-19 guidelines to get a tattoo. 

    The punishment did not stop at having the armband taken off him, though, with Mikel Arteta excluding Aubameyang from the squad for the rest of the month. 

    His exclusion led to Gabon asking for him to be released early for Africa Cup of Nations duty and Arsenal granted that request, only for him to return to his club without playing a single competitive game in Cameroon as he required medical follow-ups after contracting COVID-19. 

    Adebayor knows what it is like to have a fractious relationship with Arsenal and the club's fans, having hit out at both following his 2009 move to Manchester City. Two months later he scored against his former club and ran the length of the pitch to goad Gunners supporters, a celebration that has gone down in Premier League folklore. 

    Such have been his experiences with Arsenal, he seemingly sees no way back for Aubameyang. 

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    "But he's a strong player, he's a good player, he's a fantastic player. I wish him all the best. 

    "I sent him a message already because we just want him to bounce back. 

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