Manchester City's 8 weirdest signings of the Sheikh Mansour era

Owen Hargreaves Manchester City

8. Owen Hargreaves (2011-12, 4 apps)


Like Denis Law, Billy Meredith and Carlos Tevez, Hargreaves played for both Manchester clubs. Unlike them, he only made an impact on one side of the city.

A surprise signing in 2011, after injuries had limited him to just five appearances in his last three years on Manchester United’s books, Hargreaves stepped up his appearance record by playing four times in one season at City. He even scored on his debut. But he played just 13 minutes in the Premier League – and his last City game was a 3-2 defeat. Against United.

7. Denis Suarez (2011-13, 2 apps)

Not just forgotten man at City, but at Arsenal as well. Suarez has contrived to play for two of England’s major clubs and, at the time of writing, start a solitary game between those spells. Even that came in defeat, a 4-2 League Cup loss to Wolves.

He was touted as the new David Silva – Same initials! Same nationality! – but a second Spanish passer made an altogether slighter impression in his two years in Manchester. Having joined from Celta Vigo in 2011, he left for Barcelona.

6. Marton Fulop (2010, 3 apps)

Marton Fulop

Go back to 2010 and the late Hungarian goalkeeper had lost his place in the Sunderland team after a 7-2 thrashing at Chelsea. Manchester City were being called the world’s richest club, but found themselves without a goalkeeper: Shay Given and Stuart Taylor were injured, Joe Hart couldn't be recalled from loan at Birmingham and the transfer window was closed.

They were allowed to bring in Fulop on an emergency loan for the last three games, though Tottenham won the penultimate one to qualify for the Champions League at City’s expense.

5. Marcos Lopes (2013-15, 5 apps)

A reminder that City have turned acquiring young talent into a profitable business. City banked £9 million from selling Lopes in 2015 in a transfer that was notable partly for the fee – he'd only played five times for them – and partly because manager Manuel Pellegrini had said he wasn't for sale... half an hour before news broke that the winger was joining Monaco.

Lopes, who struck on his debut against Watford, remains City’s youngest ever scorer.

4. Richard Wright (2012-16, 0 apps)

Richard Wright

The third most famous Richard Wright on Google left Preston after a week in 2012, citing homesickness. The Ipswich-born goalkeeper then signed for Manchester City, which is famously near Suffolk.

He was savvy enough to realise that the third-choice goalkeeper gets paid for not playing and, in four years at the Etihad Stadium, never made a first-team appearance. His predecessor, Stuart Taylor, lasted three seasons – in which he played once.

3. Florian Lejeune (2015-16, 0 apps)


A City player who never played for City and rarely went near Manchester. “A strange relationship,” the defender described it, after joining Newcastle in summer 2018.

Lejeune was playing for Girona in 2015 when City bought him and promptly loaned the stopper back to Girona, then under the new ownership of a consortium including Pere Guardiola, brother of Pep. Lejeune moved on to Eibar after a year, before signing for Newcastle in 2017.

2. Bruno Zuculini (2014-17, 1 app)

A midfielder whose legacy could prove rather greater than his impact. Der Spiegel alleged that Zuculini was owned by a third party while at City, breaking FA rules. But whoever owned him, City derived few benefits from possessing the Argentine.

Zuculini joined from Racing Club in 2014, came on in the Community Shield – which City lost 3-0 – and never played for them again. He had loan spells at Valencia, Cordoba, Middlesbrough, AEK Athens, Rayo Vallecano and Verona before finally signing for the Italian club.

1. Andrea and Filippo Mancini (2010-12 and 2010-13, 0 apps and 0 apps)


They inherited the surname, but not the footballing talent. Roberto Mancini’s two sons had been on Inter Milan’s books, then represented City’s youth side – although Filippo, the elder, emulated Carlos Tevez in unwanted fashion by refusing to come on as a substitute. Andrea made one substitute appearance on loan at Oldham.

Filippo has not had a club since City; Andrea has at least gone on to play for Honved, DC United and New York Cosmos. Their father hasn't called either up for Italy, however.


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Richard Jolly

Richard Jolly also writes for the National, the Guardian, the Observer, the Straits Times, the Independent, Sporting Life, Football 365 and the Blizzard. He has written for the FourFourTwo website since 2018 and for the magazine in the 1990s and the 2020s, but not in between. He has covered 1500+ games and remembers a disturbing number of the 0-0 draws.