JACK GREALISH has revealed his England team-mates sold him on a move to Manchester City this summer.
And he was particularly keen to link up with his ‘little brother’ Phil Foden at club level as well as on the international stage.
John Stones, Kyle Walker and Raheem Sterling all helped to convince the Aston Villa skipper that the Etihad was the right move for him during their time together at Euro 2020.
And Grealish, 25, has become the first £100million British footballer after he signed a six-year deal with the champions.
Gareth Southgate is already a regular visitor to City games – and now he has another reason to make the short journey across the Pennines this season.
Asked about his Three Lions pals, Grealish said: “That helps massively. We speak anyway when we are away with England about our own clubs.
“The likes of Stones, Raz, Phil and Walks had nothing but good words to say whenever it has been mentioned.
“When we are away with England I get on so well with Phil. He makes me laugh, he is like my little brother. I just can’t wait to play with him regularly, week in, week out.
“I feel like sometimes, when you have a connection with someone off the pitch, you can transfer that onto the pitch as well.
“That is what me and Phil used to do in training when we were with England and I can’t wait to do that here.”
Grealish actually made his Villa debut at City back in May 2014 – and that 4-0 defeat proved to be the first of several hidings he took at their hands.
He smiled: “I will get to know everyone and I have played against City a lot, never really been successful!
I have never played alongside him, I have played against him, got his shirt, but he is one that I cannot wait to play with.
“I have had a few pumpings by them. It will be nice to be playing with them rather than against them.”
As well as his England team-mates, the chance to play alongside Belgian superstar Kevin de Bruyne was a key factor in Grealish making the move.
The pair have developed a friendship and during his days at Villa he studied videos of the City ace to try to improve his game.
He said: “I think everyone knows how much I admire Kevin [De Bruyne]. It is going to become a dream come true to play alongside him.
“I have always said that apart from Ronaldo and Messi I think he is the best in the world. He has got absolutely everything.
“In the season before last I got six assists and I sat down with the manager and I was watching clips of de Bruyne at Villa.
“I said, ‘That this is what I want to do, I want my end ball to be like his’ and that is something I practiced on.
“Then, last season I ended up getting 10 assists in 25 or 26 games which is a good return. That is what I based it off, the way he plays and the way he always finds that perfect final ball.
“I have never played alongside him, I have played against him a few times, got his shirt, but he is one that I cannot wait to play with.”
Last time Grealish watched City live was when he was injured and in the stands for their 2-1 victory at Villa Park in April.
He and Dean Smith felt that ‘frightening’ performance was the best they had seen at their stadium – and the midfielder just wanted to be part of it.
He said: “I remember after the game in April, I was injured at the time. It is funny because I walked down to the tunnel after to see the lads.
“The manager here, Pep, was speaking to Dean Smith. I just went a spoke to them and me and Dean said it was the best performance I have ever seen at Villa Park.
“Even though it was only 2-1, it was just frightening. I could go on all day about how good City are as a team.
“It just drags you in and is something you want to be a part of. That is one of the main reasons why I came here.
“The way this team is set up to play suits me down to a tee, the way the manager likes to play suits me.”
The big question is where will he play in a midfield that is already packed with talent – and the answer is just about anywhere.
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He said: “I have spoken to the manager already about positions and personally I think I could play as a number eight, if the manager plays a 10, either wing or even as a false nine.
“The competition is what you need. It is something that I thrive off and I think everyone needs to be kept on their toes for competition for places.
“There is so much talent here and I just cannot wait to get in and amongst it.”
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