English Premier League champion Manchester City completed the signing of England international Jack Grealish on a six-year contract on Thursday.
The 25-year-old Grealish joins City from Aston Villa having made 213 appearances and scoring 32 goals for the Birmingham club over the course of eight seasons.
“I am incredibly happy to have joined Manchester City,” said Grealish in a statement on the City website.
“City are the best team in the country with a manager considered to be the best in the world – it’s a dream come true to be part of this club,” added Grealish, referring to City manager Pep Guardiola.
“Over the past 10 seasons, they have won major trophies consistently. Pep coming here has taken them to the next level and the football this team plays is the most exciting in Europe. To play for Pep and learn from him is going to be special and it’s something any top footballer would want.”
Although the fee was not disclosed by the clubs involved, British media outlets have reported that City had made an offer worth £100 million ($139 million) for Grealish.
“I always remember Real Madrid President Florentino Pérez saying to me when we broke the transfer record for a British player with Gareth Bale in 2013 ‘you’ll only ever do a deal like this once in your lifetime,’” David Manasseh, the executive chairman of ICM Stellar Sports, the agency that represents Grealish, told CNN.
“So I am pleased we have done it again and I am very pleased for Jack, who fully deserves his success.”
The reported transfer fee eclipses both the €105 million ($124 million) that Manchester United paid Juventus to bring midfielder Paul Pogba back to the club in August 2016, and the €100 million ($118 million) that Real Madrid paid for Gareth Bale in 2013.
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Grealish becomes Manchester City’s record signing, surpassing the €68 million ($79.2 million in September 2020) fee the club paid to acquire the services of Portuguese central defender Ruben Dias from Benfica.
Grealish leaves Villa having joining the Midlands club at the age of six.
He made his senior debut for Villa against Manchester City in May 2014 and has captained his boyhood club since March 2019.
The playmaker established himself as a cult figure at the club, playing a pivotal role in their promotion to the Premier League in the 2018-19 season and scoring the decisive goal that secured the club’s Premier League survival in the 2019-20 season.
Grealish earned his first senior England cap in September 2020 and was part of Gareth Southgate’s England squad at this summer’s Euro 2020 finals.
The arrival of Grealish at the Etihad Stadium adds to a scintillating attacking line-up which already features Belgium’s Kevin De Bruyne, England’s Raheem Sterling and Algeria’s Riyad Mahrez, among others.
“Pep loves the way he plays, and we all feel he is an ideal fit for Manchester City. Our style and his style are a perfect match. I’m excited to watch him over the coming years,” City’s Director of Football Txiki Begiristain told the City website.
City’s attacking prowess could be further strengthened with British media linking the club with a move for England and Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane.
City will be looking to defend their English Premier League title when the new season begins on August 13.
Guardiola’s side will also be desperate to win an elusive Champions League title having been beaten 1-0 by Chelsea in last season’s final.
David Close contributed to this report.