File- Manchester City new signing Jack Grealish
(Reuters) - Manchester City have signed England midfielder Jack Grealish on a six-year contract after paying the 100-million pound ($139.27 million) release clause, Aston Villa announced on Thursday, making him the most expensive player in Premier League history.
Grealish's move to Premier League champions City breaks the previous record held by France midfielder Paul Pogba, who rejoined Manchester United from Juventus in 2016 for a reported fee of 89.3 million pounds.
Grealish started his career at Villa's academy before making his senior debut in 2014. The playmaker, who was given the captain's armband in March 2019, played more than 200 games for the West Midlands club, scoring 32 goals.
The 25-year-old had four years left on his Villa contract after signing a new deal in September last year.
Villa CEO Christian Purslow said Grealish had signed the new contract on the condition that if a club playing in the Champions League were interested in signing him, Villa would not stand in the way if they weren't in the competition.
Villa finished 11th last season, failing to qualify for the Champions League.
Purslow said a number of clubs expressed an interest over the summer in signing Grealish, though all offers were below the 100-million pound release clause until City agreed to pay the amount.
"Ultimately he (Grealish) said it boiled down to wanting to play Champions League football now," said Purslow.
'CITY THE BEST TEAM' IN ENGLAND
Grealish represented Ireland at youth level but switched allegiance to England in 2015, making his Under-21 debut a year later. He earned his senior cap in September 2020 and has since played 12 times for the Three Lions.
He was part of England's campaign at Euro 2020, where coach Gareth Southgate's team lost to Italy in a penalty shootout in the final.
Grealish's signing will strengthen manager Pep Guardiola's squad as the Spaniard looks to retain their Premier League title and fight for Champions League glory.
"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," said Grealish, who will wear the number 10 jersey, which was recently vacated by the departure of City's long-serving striker Sergio Aguero.
"Over the past 10 seasons, they have won major trophies consistently. Pep (Guardiola) coming here has taken them to the next level and the football this team plays is the most exciting in Europe."
British media said City are also keen to sign Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane for a fee reported to be in excess of 100 million pounds.
City face FA Cup holders Leicester City in the Community Shield on Saturday. They begin their league title defence with a trip to Spurs on Aug. 15.