Pep Guardiola reveals the first time he wanted to sign Jack Grealish from Aston Villa

Jack Grealish has become the most expensive British footballer in history after completing a £100m transfer to Manchester City this summer, but Pep Guardiola wishes he had signed the England international sooner.

The City boss has claimed Grealish was a player he had tried to buy ‘years ago’, but was unable to do so due to other priorities in his star-studded squad.

The Premier League champions will aim to retain their title crown this season and in recruiting Grealish, Guardiola believes he has welcomed a top player to The Etihad.

Asked when he first thought he would like to sign Grealish, the Spaniard said at a press conference: “Years ago, when I saw him for the first time – but then it wasn’t possible. You have the squad and we had to invest in other parts as those parts were weaker.

“But especially when I saw him on TV. I said, ‘that guy controls the tempo’.

“I love when he has the ball. He stops before the dribble and all the opponents stop as well. He controls the tempo and rhythm when he accelerates and decelerates the action.

“Then especially when I played against him – the physicality, the special mentality of how he fought against the opponents, against our players, he said, ‘I’m here’.

“I liked many things that we saw and that’s why we tried.”

Villa have already spent £95m themselves this summer, on new arrivals Emiliano Buendia, Ashley Young, Leon Bailey and Danny Ings.

Head coach Dean Smith still has some holes to fill in order to build a squad capable of challenging for the Premier League’s top six places this season.

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