Jack Grealish has revealed he nearly joined Manchester United in the summer of 2020, but a deal ultimately failed to materialise.
The former Aston Villa captain was heavily linked with a move to Old Trafford last summer, having seen his reputation grow rapidly at his boyhood club following their promotion to the Premier League in 2019.
In the end Grealish stuck around at Villa Park and enjoyed another stellar campaign as skipper of Dean Smith’s side, before Man Utd’s rivals Man City made the playmaker Britain’s first ever £100m player in early August.
Since relocating to the Etihad, Grealish has netted twice and registered three assists in 15 matches across all competitions, with the England international yet to truly burst into life under Pep Guardiola.
Now donning Sky Blue colours, the 26-year-old could have been representing City’s great rivals Man Utd had he opted to leave Villa in the summer of 2020, with Grealish now revealing he came “really close” to joining the Old Trafford club.
He told The Telegraph: “I was really close to going, but nothing happened in the end.
“We played United in a pre-season game on Saturday and I wasn’t supposed to play in a cup game at Burton. But after the United game I said to [Christian] Purslow and my agent ‘if I’m not leaving, I’ll sign my new contract’.
“I went in with my dog on Tuesday morning, signed the deal, and played later that day. We all agreed on the clause and if any team hit that, it’s a win-win because it means I’ve had an unbelievable season and Villa got £100 million.”
Grealish went on to discuss the reasons behind his move, saying he “would have regretted” snubbing City for the rest of his life as he now has a chance to compete in the Champions League, referencing comments made by Michael Owen when he jumped at the chance to join Real Madrid in 2004.
He continued: “You only get one shot at your career and it just flies by.
“I feel Villa are going towards that [Europe] but I just didn’t know how long it was going to take for us. If I hadn’t come here, I would have regretted it forever. I remember hearing Michael Owen say the same about Real Madrid.
“You look at most of my England team-mates – I was probably one of the last to play [in the] Champions League. You could probably count two or three who haven’t, such as Kalvin Phillips or Sam Johnstone.
“I’ve played four times in it now and loved every moment. It’s completely different to the Premier League, a completely different standard and way of playing.
“It’s the one we all want to win. The manager has come here and won everything else, we’re all desperate to win it and I’ve come here to try and help them.”