Christian Purslow has seen a talismanic presence lured away from the West Midlands, with a British record transfer pushed through
Aston Villa chief executive Christian Purslow has admitted that the club “hoped” a £100 million ($139m) release clause in Jack Grealish’s contract would be enough to fend off any suitors, but Manchester City have flexed their financial muscles again to complete a British record transfer.
After many months of intense speculation surrounding the future of the enigmatic England international playmaker, a big-money deal has been done that takes the talented 24-year-old away from his boyhood club and onto the books of the reigning Premier League champions.
A nine-figure sum was required to get that agreement over the line, with City smashing the previous record for the biggest fee seen in English football, and Purslow concedes that there was nothing Villa could do once the “unique value” of their prized asset was recognised.
What has been made?
Purslow has told Villa’s official website on why a deal for Grealish was done, with an exit clause written into his terms back in September 2020: “It was a highly emotional moment when he told me his decision.
“Jack wanted to be certain that if at any point a Champions League club came in for him and Aston Villa were not in the competition we would not stand in his way – for that reason we agreed to incorporate a so-called release clause into his contract.
“Our board set this clause at a value of £100m knowing that would be, by some way, a record price for a British footballer and also a record fee for any player bought by a Premier League club.
“We set the value at a level we hoped would not be met, but which would reflect his truly unique value to Aston Villa.
“Ultimately, he said it boiled down to wanting to play Champions League football now.”
What next for Villa?
Grealish is now part of Villa’s past, with a six-year contract committed to at the Etihad Stadium as he takes City’s No.10 shirt.
His departure leaves an obvious void in Dean Smith’s squad, but efforts have already been made to counter the absence of their talismanic captain.
Emi Buendia, Danny Ings and Leon Bailey have been snapped up by Villa this summer, adding goals and creativity to their ranks, with Purslow pointing out that the intention was always to invest in multiple players once it became clear that Grealish could move on.
He added: “We knew this day might come.
“It was never our intention to replace Jack with one footballer; our strategy was to analyse and break down Jack’s key attributes – his creativity, his assists and goals – and find those qualities and others in three forward players.
“We believe we have achieved this key objective. And in doing so have also reduced an overdependence on one brilliant footballer.”
Villa are due to open their 2021-22 campaign away at newly-promoted Watford on August 14, with a first reunion with Grealish at City set to take place on November 30.