It is the first time a British footballer has cost £100m and the first time a British club has paid the fee for a transfer, but Grealish insists it’s “a compliment.”
“No, it doesn’t put pressure on me whatsoever,” he told a news conference at the Etihad Stadium on Monday. I take that as a compliment, I actually like it, I think it is a good tag to have.
“When you see a club paying that much for a player it means they value you highly. I hope I can repay this club by winning as many titles as possible.”
Grealish sealed his move to City last week after initially returning to Aston Villa following a break after the European Championships. The 25-year-old admitted it was difficult to leave Villa, the club he supports and joined at the age of six, and said his reaction to the move was similar to Lionel Messi, who is departing Barcelona after more than 20 years at Camp Nou.
“I reported back for preseason as I was meant to, that is when the manager wanted me back,” said Grealish. “It was obviously difficult because in the back of my head I knew I might be going, so I didn’t really train and did a few things on my own.
“Everyone has seen the way Messi was yesterday [Sunday] at his final press conference and that is the exact way I felt myself.
“Before I left, I spoke to the team at the hotel and teared up a bit myself but I felt it was time for me to move on.
“I have always said I wanted to play Champions League football and I couldn’t do that at Villa this year. I am at a club here that has so much potential and is the most successful English side of the last 10 years. They showed so much faith in me and I felt it was the right time.”
As well as making his debut in the Champions League this season, City can also offer Grealish the chance to challenge for the Premier League title having won three of the last four.
There was also the pull of working under Pep Guardiola, who Grealish calls “the best manager in the world.”
“It was one of the toughest decisions I have ever had to make,” he said.
“It came down to a few things. It was something I just thought I couldn’t turn down — the chance to play Champions League football, to challenge for trophies to play next to players like Kevin De Bruyne, who I have looked up to for the last few years, and to play for the best manager in the world.
“I have come here to win trophies. That is what I want to do, to have as many winners’ medals as possible in my career. I have had a few runners’ up ones. I also have dreams I want to do for the national team. I want to be a regular starter for England and I believe I can be.”