Jack Grealish says he can sympathise with Lionel Messi as both confirmed their departures from their long-time clubs last week.
Grealish officially signed with Manchester City on Thursday, departing Aston Villa after spending two decades with his hometown club.
Messi, meanwhile, has departed Barcelona this summer with the Argentine widely set to join PSG, and Grealish says he understands fully why Messi was in tears at his goodbye press conference.
What did Grealish say?
“It was so tough. I think everyone knows I reported back for pre-season as I was meant to, I went back for a few days,” Grealish said at his introductory press conference at Manchester City.
“It was difficult. In the back of my head I knew I might be going. I did a bit on my own… everyone saw how Messi was yesterday – that’s exactly the way I felt. Before I left at the hotel I spoke to the team and the staff and the players and I teared up a little bit myself.
“I felt like it was time for me to move on. I’ve always said how much I want to play Champions League football. They have a football club here that has got so much potential. They’re the most successful English side in the last 10 years. It felt the right time.”
“I’ve been a Villa fan since I was four, my whole family has, I went to the club when I was six. There will always be links there, especially with the big family I have, everyone is Villa fans.
“At the end of the day I’m a City player now and will concentrate on being so successful here. I’ve come here to win silverware.”
No pressure from transfer fee
Grealish’s move to City makes him the most expensive British player ever as it took a £100m ($139m) fee to pry him from Aston Villa.
Shortly after the move, Aston Villa chief executive Christian Purslow said that the club hoped a £100 million ($139m) release clause in Grealish’s contract would be enough to fend off any suitors, but it wasn’t enough to prevent Manchester City from signing him in a record-breaking move.
With that fee, Grealish will now be expected to perform as one of the Premier League’s top players, but the attacker says he doesn’t feel any additional pressure.
“It probably hasn’t sunk in,” he said. “It means so much to me that the club were willing to spend that much on me, it fills me with confidence.
“There’s no pressure on that price tag, it shows how much the manager values me.”
He continued: “It doesn’t put any pressure on me, I take that as a compliment, I like it, it’s a good tag to have.
“When you see a club paying that sort of money it means they trust you and value you highly, they see so much potential there to work with.
“I hope now I can repay the whole club by winning as many titles as possible and winning that trophy we all want.”