Football Features

How good is Pep Guardiola’s transfer record at Manchester City?

By Muhammad Butt

Published: 17:19, 16 July 2020 | Updated: 9:52, 30 March 2021

It’s official, Manchester City will be in the Champions League next season.

The Sky Blues’ appeal to CAS to have their suspension for alleged Financial Fair Play violations overturned was successful, and with that news comes a sensation that large-scale investment is again on the way.

Is that necessarily terrible news for their rivals? Manchester City have spent a colossal amount of money under Pep Guardiola, but how much of it has actually worked out? We’ve gone back and looked at every signing made since the Catalan took charge and evaluated whether it was more of a “hit” or a “miss.”

For clarity we have excluded any signings which spent their entire time at City out on loan because such a player is impossible to evaluate as it pertains to City. But anyone who has played for Pep will be rated here. Who hit? Did anyone miss? Read on and find out!

2016

Ilkay Gundogan

From: Borussia Dortmund
For: £20m
Appearances: 159

The German maestro was a key signing for Guardiola as the Catalan looked to transform the way that his midfield functioned. He missed much of his debut season through injury but bounced back to play a significant role in both of City’s title wins and now looks to take a big role in midfield as David Silva moves on.

VERDICT: HIT

Nolito

From: Celta Vigo
For: £13.8m
Appearances: 30

Nolito had worked with Guardiola at Barcelona B and was intended to be a bridging signing to help Pep instantly bolster his attack and transmit his methods to the side. In the end Nolito struggled more than the Pep rookies and left after just one season.

VERDICT: MISS

Oleksandr Zinchenko

From: FC Ufa
For: £1.7m
Appearances: 66

Signed as a teenaged no. 10 prospect, Zinchenko never looked like making the grade there but through his tactical intelligence and application he made an impressive second-career for himself as a left-back, helping City to win the title in 2018/19. He’s not great and should be upgraded on, but for under £2m you can’t complain at what he’s delivered.

VERDICT: HIT

Leroy Sané

From: Schalke
For: £37m
Appearances: 135

Leroy Sané was a bolt of lightning on the left for City. Guardiola knew he could rely on the German’s pace, movement and big game production almost from the very start. Rumours abounded about personal problems, but Sané always delivered on the pitch and City missed his production during their disappoint 2019/20 and will struggle to replace him when he joins Bayern Munich.

VERDICT: HIT

John Stones

Manchester City’s John Stones

From: Everton
For: £47.5m
Appearances: 131

John Stones’ arc at Manchester City is an asymmetrical triangle. It starts off low with a series of disappointing displays in his debut season then ramps up sharply for a fantastic 2017/18 as Stones is the key defender for City while they romp to a 100-point Premier League win. Stones looks like the future for City and England, but he never returns from the World Cup. Not in the same way. Awful form and injury have plagued him since 2018 as his career stock has slid so far that City would struggle to give him away. The 2017/18 campaign was great, but he was signed for much more than one season and has supremely failed to deliver.

VERDICT: MISS

Claudio Bravo

From: Barcelona
For: £15.4m
Appearances: 61

With Joe Hart clearly a bad fit for Guardiola’s style of play, Claudio Bravo was drafted in from Barcelona. Unfortunately the form he showed in Catalunya did not follow him to Manchester. The Chilean was awful for City and when a shot was on target it was genuinely 50-50 whether or not he’d actually save it. Bravo was so bad that City replaced him after just a single season. He’s still at the club but only as a back-up cup goalie, his decline complete.

VERDICT: MISS

2017

Gabriel Jesus

From: Palmeiras
For: £27m
Appearances: 147

Brought in halfway through 2017/18, Jesus instantly looked a perfect fit for Guardiola’s front-line and for his first-year in Manchester was arguably the better choice to play up-front for City. Of course, Sergio Aguero eventually adapted to Pep’s methods and Jesus’ gametime lessened,but he has still always been able to produce when called upon. A fantastic talent.

VERDICT: HIT

Bernardo Silva

Manchester City’s Bernardo Silva

From: Monaco
For: £43m
Appearances: 151

Everyone lamented Bernardo Silva’s move to Man City at first because he spent much of his debut season on the bench or coming off it. This sensational talent was seemingly being wasted. Turns out he was just studying, and in 2018/19 he graduated into being City’s leading man. In the wake of Kevin De Bruyne’s injury, it was Bernardo who led City to their second consecutive title.

VERDICT: HIT

Ederson

From: Benfica
For: £34.9m
Appearances: 138

Bravo’s failure may end up being a blessing for City because it forced them out into the market to sign Ederson, and the Brazilian has been absolutely sensational right from the start. The Brazilian is obviously a good shot-stopper and all the orthodox stuff but it is his passing ability with the ball at his feet that sees him stand out. Ederson can manipulate the ball like an outfielder, he’s that good.

VERDICT: HIT

Kyle Walker

From: Spurs
For: £45m
Appearances: 136

One of the biggest flaws in Man City’s squad when Guardiola took over was the full-backs. To that end, Pep spent big to fill the positions. Walker was the first to join and has been a phenomenally consistent presence in the City defence ever since. He’s nearly always there to deliver whatever Guardiola asks of him.

VERDICT: HIT

Danilo

From: Real Madrid
For: £26.5m
Appearances: 60

If Walker was to start, then Danilo was to be his understudy. The Brazilian came from Real Madrid and had the added bonus that he could play left-back as well. He never blew anyone out of the water but given his price tag and profile he did exactly what City needed him to: cover for their starting full-backs.

VERDICT: HIT

Benjamin Mendy

From: Monaco
For: £49.3m
Appearances: 51

One of the surefire bets of summer 2017 was when City signed Benjamin Mendy. The Frenchman had just torn Ligue 1 and the Champions League to shreds with Monaco and looked tailor made to do the same in England. Then injuries happened. Lots and lots of injuries. Mendy barely played for his first two seasons with City; even 2019/20 will see him just about him 30 games in all competitions. Injuries still plague him but also accusations of unprofessionalism that he can’t seem to shake. Nevertheless, it’s been three years and City still need a left-back. For the money and the hype, Mendy has been a profound disappointment.

VERDICT: MISS

Eric Garcia

From: Barcelona
For: £1.45m
Appearances: 18

Poached from La Masia as a teenager, Eric Garcia was brought along slowly by Pep Guardiola. We’ve finally see him takes steps into becoming a starter in 2019/20 and his potential is obvious. Has already been good, could become great.

VERDICT: HIT

2018

Aymeric Laporte

From: Athletic Club
For: £57m
Appearances: 79

City had been after Laporte for a while but were put off by the price tag. Then Virgil van Dijk’s move to Liverpool gave City the green light to spend that much money on a centre-back and they did it without hesitation. The Frenchman has been flawless since, an absolute colossus at the back and the clear heir to Vincent Kompany. His importance to the defensive strength of Pep’s side has been highlighted in 2019/20 when his absence has led to a string of defensive calamities. A pillar.

VERDICT: HIT

Riyad Mahrez

From: Leicester
For: £60m
Appearances: 90

Mahrez, like Bernardo Silva before him, joined City and spent a season mostly coming off the bench. It was clear that the Algerian was just adapting to Guardiola’s unique demands, and that resulted in a 2019/20 where he exploded back onto the map. Mahrez has been a devastating creative force for City. An unquestionable hit.

VERDICT: HIT

Philippe Sandler

From: PEC Zwolle
For: £2.6m
Appearances: 2

Sandler was signed as a young prospect at centre-back but all he’s managed so far is a couple of cup games. At 23 years old it ought to have happened for him by now, but that City didn’t turn to him even during their recent defensive injury crisis was telling.

VERDICT: MISS

2019

Angelino

From: PSV
For: £5.35m
Appearances: 12

The young Spaniard was signed to be an option at left-back, and yet he barely saw the field and was loaned out half-way through the season. He’s excelled since joining RB Leipzig, however, so his failure at City is very confusing.

VERDICT: MISS

Rodri

Manchester City's Rodrigo celebrates scoring his sides third goal during the Premier League match at Turf Moor, Burnley.

From: Atlético Madrid
For: £62.8m
Appearances: 46

City have known they need a true defensive midfielder capable of defending and orchestrating play since the day Guardiola walked into the joint. Fernandinho’s brilliance bought Pep some time, but when Rodri came in you could see the immense potential in City’s improved passing game. What’s so interesting is that as good as he has been, he can be so much better.

VERDICT: HIT

Joao Cancelo

From: Juventus
For: £60m
Appearances: 29

Cancelo joined City as Danilo jointed Juventus, the two players effectively swapping clubs. Cancelo is a much more vibrant attacking force than Danilo, but has yet to really show any of that massive ability in a City shirt. He’s not been bad, but for £60m you would expect so much more from a 28-year-old attacking right-back and he hasn’t provided it.

VERDICT: MISS

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