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Man City’s 10 most expensive transfers of all time

Cameron Smith
Jack Grealish, Man City, 2023-24
© IMAGO

When Sheikh Mansour purchased the club in August 2008, Manchester City‘s fortunes were changed forever, with the influx of money ensuring they were able to attract the best players in the world.

The €43 million signing of Robinho just days into Mansour’s reign set things in motion, and since then he has spent well over €1 billion on transfers.

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With over 20 trophies in total, including the historic treble in 2022-23, it’s fair to say that Mansour’s money has brought immense success to Man City.

Below, FootballTransfers lists Man City’s 10 most expensive signings of all time.

10. Matheus Nunes – €62m (from Wolves, 2023)

Man City splashed the cash in the summer of 2023 off the back of their treble-winning campaign. In total, €241.9m was spent on new recruits and €62m of that vast sum went to Wolves for Matheus Nunes.

The Portuguese wasn’t even City’s first choice, however. They had initially sought to strike a deal for West Ham’s Lucas Paqueta but were ultimately forced to pull out due to alleged gambling offences involving the Brazilian.

Matheus Nunes joined Man City in 2023
© Manchester City – Matheus Nunes joined Man City in 2023

Nunes had previously impressed Pep Guardiola during his time at Sporting CP, with the Man City boss claiming he was “one of the best players in the world” back in early 2022.

So far, so good for Nunes at City.

9. Raheem Sterling – €63.7m (from Liverpool, 2015)

Raheem Sterling was just 20 when this move happened, and it represented a huge gamble from City’s hierarchy.

He had displayed his talent at Liverpool, but he was far from consistent, which was shown by his tally of six goals and two assists during his first Premier League season for City.

However, once Guardiola began to work with Sterling, he became far more clinical in front of goal, and his 18 goals in the 2017-18 season and 17 the following year helped Man City to back-to-back titles.

It was a risky move at the time, but it certainly paid off, and Sterling left to join Chelsea in 2022 as one of Man City’s all-time greats. They also chose to sell at the right time as Sterling had already peaked.

8. Aymeric Laporte – €65m (from Athletic Club, 2018)

As expected when it comes to buying from Athletic Club, Aymeric Laporte cost a fortune when City signed him in January 2018.

His reinforcement helped the side to the title that year, while his second full season at the club was hampered by injury, and his absence saw the title slip from City’s grasp as Liverpool strode to glory.

Although John Stones and Ruben Dias went on to form a formidable partnership in their own right, Laporte was still a vital member of the City squad and he played a role in their treble-winning 2022-23 season.

However, his involvement had diminished significantly and he joined Al-Nassr for €27.5m in 2023.

7. Joao Cancelo – €65m (from Juventus, 2019)

Part of a swap deal that involved Danilo going the other way, Joao Cancelo was an excellent addition to the Man City squad.

Joao Cancelo
© ProShots – Joao Cancelo

After having an adaption year in 2019-20, Cancelo came into his own in his second season, and was the epitome of a Guardiola player.

His tactical versatility was immense, with the Portuguese international starting from either full-back role, and moving inside as a central midfielder when City had the ball.

Cancelo was an integral part of the title wins in 2020-21 and 2021-22, but fell out of favour in 2023. He joined Bayern Munich on loan in January 2023, before signing for Barcelona on loan for the 2023-24 season.

6. Riyad Mahrez – €67.8m (from Leicester, 2018)

It took a few years following Leicester City’s shock Premier League win before Riyad Mahrez was granted his wish to move away, and when it happened, it didn’t come cheap.

However, City knew the talent he possessed, and with arguably the best first touch in football, Mahrez was a joy to watch.

He was unplayable on his day, and enjoyed five trophy-laden seasons at the Etihad Stadium before leaving for Al-Ahli in 2023. Mahrez departed Man City with 78 goals and 59 assists in 236 games.

Riyad Mahrez at Man City
© ProShots – Riyad Mahrez at Man City

5. Rodri – €70m (from Atletico Madrid, 2019)

Rodri was the player selected by Man City to replace the ageing Fernandinho and they couldn’t have picked a better signing if they ried.

After a sluggish first year in which he adjusted to English football, Rodri came into his own in 2020-21, helping the side to yet another Premier League triumph.

His value to Man City was epitomised when he finished fifth in the 2023 Ballon d’Or, while he was immortalised when he scored the winning goal in the 1-0 victory over Inter Milan in the 2023 Champions League final.

One of the best defensive midfielders of his generation.

4. Ruben Dias – €71.6m (from Benfica, 2020)

Now, this was a risk. Ruben Dias was seen as an immense talent in Portugal, but his slight weakness in defending big spaces caused many to worry about his big-money move to Man City.

Ruben Dias, Man City
© ProShots – Ruben Dias, Man City

However, he eased those concerns within weeks of his arrival in England, before guiding City to Premier League glory, and winning the FWA Player of the Year award in a stellar first season.

He went from strength to strength from there, and was pivotal in the treble-winning season of 2022-23.

3. Kevin De Bruyne – €76m (from Wolfsburg, 2015)

Signed the year before Guardiola arrived, Kevin De Bruyne joined Man City with the weight of the English press’ criticism on his shoulders.

After an underwhelming spell at Chelsea, in which he was never really given a fair shot, he then lit up the Bundesliga and since signing for City, De Bruyne has been one of the world’s best players.

The Belgian has hit double-digits for trophies won, made over 350 appearances, and contributed to over 225 goals. De Bruyne is a Manchester City legend, and one of the their greatest ever signings.

It’s hard to think that €76m can be a bargain, but De Bruyne has proven that it’s possible.

2. Josko Gvardiol – €90m (from RB Leipzig, 2023)

Josko Gvardiol became the most expensive defender in football history when he joined Man City from Leipzig for €90m in the summer of 2023.

Gvardiol had emerged as arguably the best young defender on the planet in the Bundesliga and was one of the stars at the 2022 World Cup as Croatia made it all the way to the semi-finals.

Josko Gvardiol for Croatia
© ProShots – Josko Gvardiol for Croatia

Gvardiol had a difficult first season at City as he was used in an alien left back position in many games.

1. Jack Grealish – €117.5m (from Aston Villa, 2021)

Jack Grealish overtook Kevin De Bruyne as Manchester City’s most expensive transfer of all time in the summer of 2021.

His €117.5m move from Aston Villa made him the most expensive English and British transfer in history, although that record has since been broken.

Grealish had established himself as one of the Premier League’s most exciting and creative players at Aston Villa, but his first season at Man City didn’t go to plan.

He resurrected his Man City career during the 2022-23 campaign, however, and played a major role in their aforementioned treble.

The 10 most expensive Man City signings of all time

Player From Fee Year
1. Jack Grealish Aston Villa €117.5m 2021
2. Josko Gvardiol RB Leipzig €90m 2023
3. Kevin de Bruyne Wolfsburg €76m 2015
4. Ruben Dias Benfica €71.6m 2020
5. Rodri Atletico Madrid €70m 2019
6. Riyad Mahrez Leicester €67.8m 2018
7. Joao Cancelo Juventus €65m 2019
= Aymeric Laporte Athletic Club €65m 2018
9. Raheem Sterling Liverpool €63.7m 2015
10. Matheus Nunes Wolves €62m 2023

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