Manchester City's best ever signings

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 03: Sergio Aguero of Manchester City celebrates scoring his fourth and team's fifth goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Newcastle United at Etihad Stadium on October 3, 2015 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Manchester City have had some seriously special players down the years – and a great many of them have been signed from elsewhere.

From integral figures in the club's earliest glories, to the superstars of their mega-rich modern era, Maine Road and the Etihad Stadium have seen terrific talent aplenty.

Without further ado, here are City's best signings ever...

33. Paul Dickov

18 Nov 2000: Paul Dickov of Manchester City argues with David Beckham of Manchester United during the FA Carling Premier League match played at Maine Road in Manchester, England. United won the game 1-0. \ Mandatory Credit: Shaun Botterill /Allsport

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Forever a hero at Manchester City for his role in the 1999 Second Division play-off final – where his 95th-minute equaliser took the game to extra time, just eight minutes after Joe Royle's side had trailed 2-0 to Gillingham.

Signed from Arsenal in 1996, Dickov actually missed his penalty in the shootout, but City got the job done at Wembley – before the 10-time Scotland striker helped them to second place in the First Division the following season, earning promotion back to the Premier League.

32. Jack Grealish

Jack Grealish #10 of Manchester City in action during the UEFA Champions League Group G match between Manchester City and BSC Young Boys at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester on Tuesday 7th November 2023. (Photo by MIke Morese/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

(Image credit: Getty Images)

After becoming the most expensive British player of all time by completing a £100m move from Aston Villa in 2021, Jack Grealish took a good season or so to get going at Manchester City.

But the England international would assert himself as one of the best and most entertaining wingers in world football, starring in City's historic treble triumph of 2022/23.

31. Gabriel Jesus

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 24: Gabriel Jesus of Manchester City celebrates after scoring their team's second goal during the UEFA Champions League group A match between Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain at Etihad Stadium on November 24, 2021 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Jan Kruger - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images)

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Gabriel Jesus ultimately left Manchester City in search of greater first-team opportunities at Arsenal – but the Brazilian forward's record in sky blue was better than many probably realise.

A £27m arrival from Palmeiras in January 2017, Jesus scored consistently throughout his five-year City career, racking up 58 Premier League goals at an average of 0.56/90 – and winning four titles under Pep Guardiola.

30. Dennis Tueart

5 September 1981 - Football League Division One - Stoke City v Manchester City - Dennis Tueart of Man City - (Photo by Mark Leech/ Offside/Getty Images).

(Image credit: Getty Images)

A 1975/76 League Cup winner with Manchester City, left winger Dennis Tueart joined from Sunderland in 1974 – and went on to make the best part of 300 appearances for City across two spells, either side of a stint with iconic NASL outfit the New York Cosmos.

Capped six times by England, Tueart helped City to the final of the 1980/81 FA Cup final after returning to the club.

29. Riyad Mahrez

ISTANBUL, TURKEY - JUNE 10: Riyad Mahrez of Manchester City poses with the trophy following the 1-0 victory in the UEFA Champions League 2022/23 final match between FC Internazionale and Manchester City FC at Ataturk Olympic Stadium on June 10, 2023 in Istanbul, Turkey. (Photo by Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images)

(Image credit: Getty Images)

A major protagonist in Leicester City's fairytale 2015/16 Premier League title success – winning that season's PFA Players' and Fans' Player of the Year awards – Riyad Mahrez joined Manchester City in 2018 for £60m, then a record for an African player.

And the Algerian wideman more than justified his price tag, registering 77 Premier League goal contributions in five campaigns – before leaving City on a high as a 2022/23 treble winner.

28. Pablo Zabaleta

NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND - MAY 06: Pablo Zabaleta of Manchester City celebrates after the Barclays Premier League match between Newcastle United and Manchester City at the Sports Direct Arena on May 6, 2012 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

(Image credit: Getty Images)

An integral player for Manchester City throughout their transition from contenders to dominant force, Pablo Zabaleta amassed 333 appearances during a nine-year stay at the Etihad Stadium.

Signed from Espanyol in the summer of 2008, the fabulously consistent Argentine right-back played under four City managers – Mark Hughes, Roberto Mancini, Manuel Pellegrini and Pep Guardiola – winning two Premier League titles, an FA Cup and two League Cups.

27. Denis Law

Denis Law, Manchester City

(Image credit: Alamy)

Not many players enjoyed success on both sides of the Manchester divide – but Denis Law is one of them, scoring 37 goals in 79 appearances across two spells with Manchester City.

One of the greatest strikers of all time, the Lawman broke the British transfer record when he arrived from Huddersfield Town in March 1960 – and he went on to find the net 19 times in the First Division during his first full campaign at Maine Road.

26. Brian Kidd

Brian Kidd, Manchester City

(Image credit: Alamy)

Again, not many have done it – but Brian Kidd is another to have made a big impact at both Manchester United and Manchester City, joining the latter from Arsenal in 1976 (having joined the Gunners from United two years earlier).

A natural goalscorer, Kidd was on target 44 times in 98 appearances for City, finding the net three times against United during the 1977/78 campaign.

He later returned to the club as a coach on multiple occasions, working under Sven-Goran Eriksson, Manuel Pellegrini and Pep Guardiola.

25. Joe Hart

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - APRIL 12: Joe Hart of Man City celebrates them winning a penalty decision during the UEFA Champions League Quarter Final second leg match between Manchester City FC and Paris Saint-Germain at the Etihad Stadium on April 12, 2016 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Christopher Lee - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images)

(Image credit: Getty Images)

One of Manchester City's longest-serving players of the Premier League era, Joe Hart joined from Shrewsbury Town in 2006 and was number one goalkeeper by 2008.

The England international kept hold of that spot for eight years and was ever present in the Premier League across the 2010/11, 2011/12 – when he made the PFA Team of the Year as City clinched their very first Premier League title – and 2012/13 campaigns.

24. Edin Dzeko

DORTMUND, GERMANY - DECEMBER 03: Edin Dzeko looks on during a Manchester City press conference ahead of their UEFA Champions League group stage match against Borussia Dortmund at Signal Iduna Park on December 3, 2012 in Dortmund, Germany. (Photo by Lars Baron/Bongarts/Getty Images)

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Scorer of the 'forgotten' goal in that final-day victory over QPR in 2012, Edin Dzeko won two Premier League titles with Manchester City, finding the net 50 times in the competition.

Signed from Wolfsburg for £27m in January 2011, the Bosnia-Herzegovina great equalised in the 92nd minute of the historic aforementioned game, setting the stage for Sergio Aguero to seal City's first league title in 44 years.

23. Georgi Kinkladze

06 April 1996 - FA Carling Premiership - Manchester City v Manchester United - Georgi Kinkladze of City emerges from the tunnel at Maine Road ahead of the second half. (Photo by Mark Leech/Offside via Getty Images)

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Iconic Georgian attacking midfielder Georgi Kinkladze delighted Manchester City fans with his dazzling dribbling ability and knack for scoring spectacular goals.

Brought in from Dinamo Tbilisi in the summer of 1995, Kinkladze was voted City's Player of the Season in 1996 and 1997 – and he twice won the BBC's Goal of the Month poll, most notably for his mazy run followed by deft chip against Southampton.

22. Carlos Tevez

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 05: Carlos Tevez of Manchester City celebrates scoring his team's second goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Chelsea at the City of Manchester Stadium on December 5, 2009 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

(Image credit: Getty Images)

After signing Carlos Tevez from West Ham following his loan spell at Manchester United, Manchester City just couldn't resist winding up their local rivals: they erected that now iconic 'Welcome to Manchester' billboard featuring the tenacious Argentine forward.

It might have backfired – but it didn't: Tevez scored 73 goals in four seasons at City, scooping their 2009/10 Supporters' and Players' Player of the Year awards; then the Premier League Golden Boot in 2010/11, along with the FA Cup as captain; then the Premier League title in 2011/12.

21. Bernardo Silva

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 4: Bernardo Silva of Manchester City in action during the Premier League match between Manchester City and AFC Bournemouth at Etihad Stadium on November 4, 2023 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images)

(Image credit: Getty Images)

A highly versatile attacking midfielder, Bernardo Silva was one of Pep Guardiola's first Manchester City signings, joining from Monaco for £43.5m in July 2017.

Brilliantly unselfish, the Portuguese playmaker was named City's 2018/19 Player of the Year – while in November 2021, he produced a stunning performance in his side's Champions League victory over PSG, completing 47 passes out of 47 and setting up the winning goal.

20. Ken Barnes

Manchester City footballer Ken Barnes in training at Maine Road. April 1956. (Photo by Mirrorpix via Getty Images)

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Legendary half-back Ken Barnes was a key member of the Manchester City side which won the 1955/56 FA Cup – having finished as runners-up the season before.

Picked up from non-League Stafford Rangers for the princely sum of £750 in 1950, Barnes went on to make almost 300 appearances for City – where he became skipper in 1957.

19. Billy Meredith

Billy Meredith, Manchester City

(Image credit: Alamy)

An early football superstar, Billy Meredith goes down as the ultimate example of doing it for both Manchester clubs, featuring over 300 times for Manchester City and Manchester United.

The Welsh outside forward had two spells on the blue half of Manchester, first arriving at Maine Road from Chirk AAA in 1894.

He starred in City's 1898/89 Second Division title success and 1903/04 FA Cup triumph, among the club's very first honours.

18. Peter Doherty

Peter Doherty, Manchester City

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Legendary inside-left Peter Doherty was born in Lancashire but began his career in Northern Ireland, returning to England to join Blackpool in 1933 – then moving onto Manchester City three years later.

And during his time at Maine Road, he established himself as one of City's finest players of all time, bagging 79 goals in 130 games – including 30 en route to the 1936/37 First Division title.

17. Rodri

Rodri of Manchester City during the Premier League match between Sheffield United and Manchester City at Bramall Lane on August 27, 2023 in Sheffield, England.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

In his time at Manchester City, Rodri established himself as one of the best defensive midfielders on the planet, and proved absolutely pivotal to the 2022/23 treble win (not least because he scored the winning goal against Inter Milan in the Champions League final).

City activated the Spain star's £62.6m release clause to sign him from Atletico Madrid in 2019, and it was money very well spent indeed.

Rodri's 2022/23 Champions Leaguer displays saw him named the competition's Player of the Season.

16. John Stones

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 07: John Stones of Manchester City looks on before the UEFA Champions League match between Manchester City and BSC Young Boys at Etihad Stadium on November 07, 2023 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

(Image credit: Getty Images)

John Stones deserves to be considered among England's best ever defenders – but the former Everton and Barnsley man did far more than merely defend after Pep Guardiola took over at Manchester City and truly transformed him.

Already excellent with the ball at his feet – hence his appeal to Guardiola (although Manuel Pellegrini was the City boss who signed in 2016) – the 2022/23 season saw Stones become an elite holding midfielder, playing a crucial part in his team's treble triumph.

15. Kyle Walker

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 25: Kyle Walker of Manchester City during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Liverpool FC at Etihad Stadium on November 25, 2023 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Simon Stacpoole/Offside/Offside via Getty Images)

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Another early Pep Guardiola acquisition, Kyle Walker joined Manchester City from Tottenham in 2017 – and quickly cemented his status as one of the best right-backs in the world.

Among the fastest players on the planet even a fair way into his 30s, the England regular proved his versatility by operating equally adeptly in a back three or four – and he was a five-time Premier League champion within six years of arriving at the Etihad Stadium.

14. Eric Brook

Eric Brook, Manchester City

(Image credit: Getty Images)

All-time England and Manchester City great Eric Brook arrived from Barnsley in 1928 – and spent the rest of his career in City blue, with the outbreak of World War II agonisingly leaving him one short of 500 appearances for the club.

But in the 499 games he did play for City, the outside left made an enormous impact: he reached double figures for goals in 10 different campaigns, starring in the 1933/34 FA Cup victory and 1936/37 First Division title win.

13. Bert Trautmann

Bert Trautmann of Manchester City in full flight as he leaps across to cover a pile-driver from Rye in their First Division match against Wolverhampton Wanderers. August 1951. (Photo by Abell/Daily Herald/Mirrorpix via Getty Images)

(Image credit: Getty Images)

It's one of the most heroic stories in football history: Manchester City goalkeeper Bert Trautmann playing on with a broken neck to pull off some vital saves to ensure his team won the 1956 FA Cup final.

Captured by the British on the Western Front while fighting for Germany during World War II and taken as a prisoner of war, Trautmann started out with St Helens Town – where he was spotted by City in 1949, going on to make 545 appearances for them.

His extraordinary life was chronicled in 2018 biopic The Keeper.

12. Tony Book

English footballer Tony Book of Manchester City FC, a League Division 1 team at the start of the 1973-74 football season, UK, 30th August 1973. (Photo by Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Iconic Manchester City skipper of the late 60s and early 70s, Tony Book captained the club to glory in the First Division, FA Cup, League Cup and Cup Winners' Cup – city's first European honour.

Signed from Plymouth Argyle for £17,000 in 1966, the right-back managed City between 1974 and 1979, leading them to League Cup success in 1975/76 – before returning for brief caretaker stints in 1989 and 1993.

In 1969, he was voted joint winner of the prestigious FWA Football of the Year award.

11. Ederson

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 25: Ederson of Manchester City looks on during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Liverpool FC at Etihad Stadium on November 25, 2023 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

(Image credit: Getty Images)

One of Pep Guardiola's first big changes as Manchester City manager was to replace existing number one Claudio Bravo with a more competent ball-playing goalkeeper – and he certainly got that in Ederson, a £35m signing from Benfica.

For Guardiola's perennial Premier League champions, the Brazilian would prove himself to be one of the best 'keepers on the planet – and probably the best in terms of his passing ability, prompting (perhaps slightly excessive) suggestions that he could do a job as an outfield player.

10. Erling Haaland

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 23: Erling Haaland of Manchester City celebrates scoring during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Nottingham Forest at Etihad Stadium on September 23, 2023 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images)

(Image credit: Getty Images)

He came; he scored; he conquered the Premier League single-season goals record. In his first campaign after joining Manchester City from Borussia Dortmund, Erling Haaland well and truly lived up to his Terminator nickname by breaking Andy Cole and Alan Shearer's previous best of 34, netting 36 times in 35 games.

The scarily prolific Norwegian was bagged 52 goals in 53 games in all competitions during his first season as a City player, accounting for more than a third of his team's total.

9. Mike Summerbee

English footballer Mike Summerbee of Manchester City FC, a League Division 1 team at the start of the 1973-74 football season, UK, 30th August 1973. (Photo by Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Part of the famed Bell-Lee-Summerbee trio of the late 60s and early 70s, Mike Summerbee is an undisputed Manchester City legend – who featured over 450 times for the club.

Signed from Swindon Town in 1965, the midfielder – who earned eight England caps – won Second and First Division titles with City, as well as the FA Cup, League Cup and Cup Winners' Cup.

Summerbee also starred in cult football film Escape to Victory alongside the likes of Sylvester Stallone, Michael Caine and Pele.

8. Fernandinho

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 23: Fernandinho of Manchester City looks on from the parade bus during the Manchester City FC Victory Parade on May 23, 2022 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Charlotte Tattersall/Getty Images)

(Image credit: Getty Images)

During a glittering nine-year spell at the Etihad Stadium, Fernandinho became a Manchester City legend – having joined from Shakhtar Donetsk for £34m in the summer of 2013.

Among the best defensive midfielders of the Premier League era, the battling Brazilian won five top-flight titles and six FA Cups with City – who he captained between 2020 and his departure in 2022.

Praised by Pep Guardiola for being able to "do everything", Fernandinho also possessed a ferocious long-range shot.

7. Yaya Toure

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 19: Yaya Toure of Manchester City in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and West Ham United at Etihad Stadium on September 19, 2015 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

(Image credit: Getty Images)

One of the finest African players of all time, Yaya Toure's eight years at Manchester City were filled with silverware and memorable moments.

Those moments included plenty of goals – of which he scored 20 in the 2013/14 Premier League title-winning campaign alone, becoming one of the very few midfielders to reach that mark in a single season in the competition.'

Toure made the PFA Team of the Year twice during his time with City, winning the club's 2013/14 Player of the Year award.

6. Vincent Kompany

Manchester City's Belgian defender Vincent Kompany (C) holds up the Premier League trophy after their 4-1 victory in the English Premier League football match between Brighton and Hove Albion and Manchester City at the American Express Community Stadium in Brighton, southern England on May 12, 2019. - Manchester City held off a titanic challenge from Liverpool to become the first side in a decade to retain the Premier League on Sunday by coming from behind to beat Brighton 4-1 on Sunday. (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. / (Photo credit should read GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images)

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Vincent Kompany joined Manchester City from Hamburg in 2008 and, over the next 11 years, went on to emphatically ensure legendary status at the Etihad Stadium.

Club captain between 2010 and 2018, the formidable Belgian centre-back lifted four League Cups, two FA Cups and four Premier League titles with City.

And the last of those titles was sealed in absolutely spectacular fashion as Kompany – not exactly renowned for his goalscoring prowess – unleashed a 25-yard thunderbolt against Leicester to take his team top of the table with one game of the season remaining.

5. Francis Lee

Newcastle Utd v Manchester City 11th May 1968, League Division One match at St James Park. Francis Lee celebrates a goal cheered by fans. Final Score Newcastle 3 Manchester City 4. (Photo by Les Palmer/Mirrorpix/Getty Images)

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Starring in the same highly successful side as Colin Bell and Mike Summerbee, Francis Lee is one of Manchester City's all-time leading goalscorers, finding the net 148 times between 1967 and 1974.

Later City chairman, Lee – who scored 10 goals in 27 caps for England – joined Joe Mercer's City from Bolton Wanderers in a deal worth £60,000, going on to win four major honours with the club – among them the 1967/68 First Division title and 1969/70 Cup Winners' Cup.

4. Kevin De Bruyne

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - JANUARY 06: Kevin De Bruyne of Manchester City looks on during the Carabao Cup Semi Final match between Manchester United and Manchester City at Old Trafford on January 06, 2021 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Few Premier League players have proved their doubters wrong more emphatically than Kevin De Bruyne – who had flopped at Chelsea but would do absolutely anything but at Manchester City.

The Belgian's £55m arrival from Wolfsburg in 2015 made him the second-most expensive signing ever by a British club – and City would not regret spending a single penny on that transfer: KDB's supreme string-pulling performances soon marked him out as one of the greatest playmakers of all time.

In the 2019/20 season, De Bruyne registered 20 Premier League assists – equalling Thierry Henry's record set 17 years earlier.

3. Sergio Aguero

Manchester City's Argentinian striker Sergio Aguero celebrates on the pitch after their 3-2 victory over Queens Park Rangers in the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Queens Park Rangers at The Etihad stadium in Manchester, north-west England on May 13, 2012. Manchester City won the game 3-2 to secure their first title since 1968. This is the first time that the Premier league title has been decided on goal-difference, Manchester City and Manchester United both finishing on 89 points. AFP PHOTO/PAUL ELLIS RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 45 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. (Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP/GettyImages)

(Image credit: Getty Images)

"AGUUUEEEROOOOOO!"

Undoubtedly one of the greatest strikers of the Premier League era – and one of the most prolific goalscorers in the history of the competition, Sergio Aguero would have been a Manchester City legend even without that moment.

But, despite finding the net 260 times for City in all, the clinical Argentine marksman – who arrived from Atletico Madrid in 2011 – will always be remembered above all else for his 94th-minute winner against QPR to snatch the Premier League title away from Manchester United on the final day of the 2011/12 season.

2. Colin Bell

Blackpool 1 v Manchester City 1, Texaco Cup at Bloomfield Road. Manchester City's Colin Bell has a shot at goal. 3rd August 1974. (Photo by Alfred Markey/Mirrorpix/Getty Images)

(Image credit: Getty Images)

In many ways, Colin Bell was the main man of the Bell-Lee-Summerbee trio which combined to inspire Manchester City to such superb success during the late 60s and early 70s.

Born in the Durham village of Hesleden, Bell started out Bury before moving onto City in 1966 – when he immediately helped them to the Second Division title.

Two years later, the midfielder – who played for England at the 1970 World Cup – was instrumental in City's First Division title victory, winning Player of the Year, before starring in FA Cup, League Cup and Cup Winners' Cup triumphs.

1. David Silva

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 23: David Silva of Manchester City celebrates scoring his team's fifth goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Manchester City at Old Trafford on October 23, 2011 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

(Image credit: Getty Images)

No player proved more pivotal in transforming Manchester City's fortunes during the era of Abu Dhabi ownership than Spanish playmaking wizard David Silva, unquestionably an all-time Premier League great.

Brought in from Valencia in the summer of 2010, having just helped Spain to their maiden World Cup triumph, Silva spent 10 glorious years with City, winning four Premier League titles and scoring some truly phenomenal goals (including his very first for the club against Blackpool).

In 2021, a year after leaving City, he was honoured with a statue outside the Etihad Stadium – alongside one of former teammate Vincent Kompany.

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1