Villa insisted that bids under £100m would not be entertained and CEO Christian Purslow claimed he had a “strong desire” to keep the England international despite speculation mounting that he’d depart his boyhood club before the start of the 2021/22 Premier League campaign.
However, City would eventually put an end to months of speculation and exercise a release clause which stood at £100million.
Grealish had only signed a new five-year contract back in September 2020, but had a release clause written into it so Villa could not to block any future move if a side playing in the Champions League made an approach.
When Grealish left the club, Purslow said: “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.”
Despite the club’s hopes that the enormous release clause wouldn’t be met, Grealish might well have commanded an even greater fee, judging by Transfermarkt.co.uk’s player valuations.
According to Transfermarkt, only three players who play in one of Europe’s top five leagues are valued higher than Grealish.
Kylian Mbappe, Erling Haaland, and Harry Kane make up the top three, while Grealish is ranked as the fourth most valuable player in Europe, ahead of Romelu Lukaku, Kevin De Bruyne, and Neymar.
Grealish is therefore considered by the transfer valuation experts as the most expensive player on the books at Man City, the second most in England’s national team and across the Premier League too.
Villa might not have been allowed to skirt around a release clause to pin Grealish down for another five years at his boyhood club, but in hindsight, the £100m insert might have even been too “cheap” for a player whose valuation continues to rise every season.