Football Features

The greatest Man City players of the Sheikh Mansour era

By Squawka News

Published: 17:30, 4 February 2022

Manchester City’s quest to become one of England’s leading clubs since their takeover in 2008 has been extremely successful, lifting 16 pieces of silverware in that time.

Two FA Cups, six League Cups and three Community Shields line-up alongside their five Premier League titles, the latest of which came last season as they reclaimed the trophy that Liverpool had taken off them the year before.

The arrival of Sheikh Mansour and his billions over a decade ago transformed City from an underperforming club living on former glories into one of the most successful sides in modern English football.

Huge fees have been shelled out on players since 2008 but some players have proven to be more value for money than others. Here are the top 10 Manchester City signings since Sheikh Mansour’s takeover.

Note: in case you forgot, defensive pairing Vincent Kompany and Pablo Zabaleta were both already at the club prior to Mansour’s arrival.

10. Bernardo Silva

Manchester City appearances: 230

Manchester City goals: 43

Leroy Sane narrowly misses out on our top 10 due to the meteoric rise in importance of Bernardo Silva over the course of City’s 2018/19 season and subsequent campaigns.

Signed from Monaco for £43m in 2017, Silva was integrated relatively slowly by Pep Guardiola during his first season in English football (he had started just four Premier League games by Christmas). Now, however, he has amassed 109 top-flight starts, 28 goals, 27 assists and a club’s Player of the Season trophy. Not to mention three Premier League titles, four League Cups and the FA Cup.

Silva has been backed to go on to captain City in the future by Vincent Kompany, while Guardiola said of him: “He’s a fighter. He’s one of the best players in Europe. One of the best.”

9. Carlos Tevez

Manchester City appearances: 148

Manchester City goals: 73

For years, Manchester City fans had to endure the taunts of their rivals as United set about becoming the dominant force in English football, but the signing of Carlos Tevez hinted that the playing field was levelling out.

After being marginalised during his final season at Old Trafford, Tevez appeared hell-bent on proving himself all over again, becoming City’s talisman soon after his arrival and winning the FA Cup and Premier League.

A six-month self-imposed exile aside, he was a phenomenon at the Etihad and helped usher in a period of success at the club.

8. Kyle Walker

Manchester City appearances: 205

Manchester City goals: 6

Already a proven right-back at both domestic and international level with Tottenham Hotspur and England respectively, Walker has excelled under the guidance of Guardiola, making himself a key member of a City defence that has been absolutely air-tight in recent seasons.

Walker has won more in four-and-a-bit campaigns than he had throughout his entire pre-City career and he’s still going strong now, so that trophy cabinet will continue being used.

7. Ederson

Manchester City appearances: 219

Manchester City goals: 0

What a signing this particular Brazilian has been. Signed from Benfica in 2017, Ederson defines what is expected from the modern goalkeeper.

Fantastic with his feet, agile when called upon, and capable of picking out a killer pass — much to the surprise of the opposition — it could be argued that no goalkeeper influences an entire team’s style of play more than the 28-year-old.

Ederson has kept 107 sheets in 219 games for City so far.

6. Raheem Sterling

Manchester City appearances: 319

Manchester City goals: 123

A promising player upon arrival from rivals Liverpool, Sterling is now considered one of the best forwards around.

Sterling has scored 20 or more goals in three successive seasons in all competitions and has developed into a key figure in the dressing room; a man who plays well beyond his years.

The England international slowed up in front of goal last season but still managed 14 strikes in 49 games, which is certainly not to be sniffed at from a winger. He is currently on nine across 27 this campaign, and will be hoping to reach double figures in the next few games.

5. Fernandinho

Manchester City appearances: 367

Manchester City goals: 25

Not an awful lot was known of Fernandinho when Manchester City spent north of £30m to lure him away from Ukrainian football in 2013, but he has proven to be inspired acquisition in subsequent seasons.

The Brazilian’s partnership alongside Yaya Toure in City’s central midfield was pivotal to their Premier League title success under Manuel Pellegrini and he has continued to be an integral member of the side during Guardiola’s tenure, even when moving to centre-back in 2019/20.

4. Yaya Toure

Manchester City appearances: 316

Manchester City goals: 79

Quite frankly, you could make a case for Yaya Toure being the greatest signing of the Mansour era. He was that good.

The closest player to Patrick Vieira over the past decade, Toure was signed as a defensive midfielder from Barcelona but transformed into a barnstorming, unstoppable colossus in a box-to-box role.

Little did we know the Ivorian could finish, too, as he demonstrated most clearly in 2013/14 when he scored 20 league goals to fire the Citizens to their second title.

One of the Premier League’s all-time great midfielders, he could have claimed top spot on this list if he hadn’t endured periods out of the team for various reasons. A glittering association came to a close when Toure confirmed his exit from City at the end of the 2017/18 season.

3. Kevin De Bruyne

Manchester City appearances: 287

Manchester City goals: 74

A creative genius who flourished in German football with Werder Bremen and Wolfsburg after being shunned by Chelsea, Kevin De Bruyne returned to English football in 2015, joining Manchester City in a then club-record £55m deal.

Injury problems aside, the Belgian playmaker hit the ground running in his second spell in the Premier League, immediately becoming a talismanic figure in the final third thanks to his probing passes and goalscoring prowess.

And as part of City’s phenomenal team over the past six-and-a-bit seasons, the Belgian has made a name for himself as one of the best midfielders in Premier League history, dishing out assists with frightening frequency.

2. Sergio Aguero

Manchester City appearances: 390

Manchester City goals: 260

Sergio Aguero boasts a truly phenomenal strike rate that would have been even better had the diminutive Argentine managed to steer clear of the injuries that hampered his time in Manchester.

For many years, Aguero was far and away the most prolific striker in the Premier League and beyond, leading City’s attack for what feels like an eternity under a variety of different managers, becoming the club’s all-time leading goalscorer on the way.

Plenty of his strikes have been important ones too. None more so than that career-defining finish against QPR on the final day of the 2011/12 campaign.

But the curtain came down on the Aguero era at the Etihad in the summer, with the striker leaving at the end of last season to join Barcelona — a campaign which was severely limited by injury problems once again, the only difference being that the goals also dried up.

And the City immortal has now hung up his boots for good, announcing his retirement from the sport at just 33 years old for medical reasons. A true legend of the beautiful game.

1. David Silva

Manchester City appearances: 436

Manchester City goals: 77

It takes some footballer to finish ahead of players as talented and influential as Toure, De Bruyne and Aguero, but David Silva was the conductor of the orchestra, making City tick with his peerless passing ability.

A goal return of one every five-and-a-half games is an impressive record but it is Silva’s century of assists that sets him apart; he is without a doubt one of the most gifted technicians to grace the Premier League.

While others may possess better numbers when it comes to scoring goals – and providing assists – Silva’s effortless ability to glide away from defenders has been a joy to watch throughout his time in England.

Beloved by Manchester City supporters, no one had a bad word to say about City’s favourite Spanish son, who is now back in his homeland with Real Sociedad.

Honourable mentions:

Gareth Barry, Nigel de Jong, Edin Dzeko, Aleksandar Kolarov, James Milner, Leroy Sane, John Stones.