2008 was the year everything changed for Manchester City. The Abu Dhabi United Group completed a £210m takeover of the club and proceeded to bankroll a ridiculous spending spree which still hasn’t come to an end.
A lot of City’s money has gone on new centre-backs, and that trend continued in the summer. Nathan Aké and Benfica’s Rúben Dias joined in big money moves.
Spending big on a defender is nothing new to City, who have often struggled to find the right answer when it comes to defending.
So, let’s rank all the centre-backs who have been signed since the takeover.
Cost: £42m (2014)
City Appearances: 79
The most expensive defender in Premier League history at the time of his arrival in 2014, Eliaqium Mangala’s stock plummeted so far that he was allowed to leave on a free transfer just five years later.
A few inconsistent seasons prompted loan moves to Valencia and Everton, and it was at the latter that Mangala suffered a season-ending knee injury just two games into his stay.
City were so desperate to let him go that they let Valencia take him on a free transfer in 2019, bringing an end to Mangala’s nightmarish time at the Etihad.
Cost: £10.4m (2010)
City Appearances: 24
This had the potential to be the greatest business of the takeover era. City lured Jérôme Boateng away from Hamburger SV in 2010, but they then decided to mismanage him to the point of disaster.
Manager Roberto Mancini, who had long admired Boateng, tried to shoehorn him into the starting lineup by playing him at right-back – a decision which brought poor performances and only proceeded to upset the German.
Cost: £180,000 (2016)
City Appearances: 0
City snapped up a 22-year-old Pablo Marí from Gimnàstic in 2016 and immediately sent him out on loan to Girona.
He then spent time with NAC Breda and Deportivo La Coruña before being sold permanent to Flamengo for around £1m, meaning his time on the books at City was pretty pointless for everyone.
Just one year later, Marí found his way back to England with Arsenal, who parted with a cool £12m to land the Spaniard.
Cost: £225,000 (2015)
City Appearances: 0
Another of those signings from the early days of City’s partnership with Girona, Florian Lejeune was picked up and immediately loaned back to the Spanish side in 2015.
City turned that £225,000 into £1.2m in just one year by selling the Frenchman to Eibar in 2016.
Like Marí, Lejeune was back in England one year later, sealing a £8.7m move to Newcastle United.
Cost: £1m (2018)
City Appearances: 0 (still at club)
Seen as an exciting prospect back in 2018, City lured Japanese starlet Ko Itakura over from Kawasaki Frontale and instantly sent him to Eredivise side Groningen.
He’s been there ever since and has played some impressive football, and while he might never make it at the Etihad, he could be sold for a solid profit in the near future.
Cost: £2.2m (2018)
City Appearances: 2 (still at club)
Philippe Sandler is still just 23 years old and has plenty of time to live up to expectations, but it’s safe to say his move to City in 2018 hasn’t worked out just yet.
Handed a couple of cup appearances in 2018/19, the Dutchman was loaned out to Anderlecht in 2019/20, but he managed just 11 appearances (during their disasterous start to the season) before being ruled out with a season-ending knee injury.
Cost: £6m (2011)
City Appearances: 21
Stefan Savić spent just one season in Manchester and managed to look like both a future star and a major flop.
He probably should be lower on this list, but at least City managed to turn him into…
Cost: £12m + Stefan Savić (2012)
City Appearances: 51
Everything started so promisingly for Matija Nastasić, who was signed in a deal which took Savić to Fiorentina.
He made his debut at the Santiago Bernabéu against Real Madrid and was a core part of the team in his debut season, winning the club’s Young Player of the Season award, but that’s when the injuries began.
He made enough appearances to earn a winner’s medal in the successful 2013/14 season, but City grew tired of his fitness struggles and shipped him off to Schalke.
Cost: £41m (2020)
City Appearances: 9 (still at club)
This is all a bit of an unknown right now.
The signs suggest Nathan Aké will enjoy a decent career at the Etihad, although he will likely drop to third choice following the signing of Dias.
£41m for a backup is a little high, but it could end up being smart business.
Cost: £51m (2020)
City Appearances: 21 (still at club)
He may have only played half a season of football at City, but Ruben Dias has made believers of quite a few fans.
His partnership with John Stones in recent weeks has been a huge factor in City’s impressive post-Christmas form.
Cost: £50m (2016)
City Appearances: 149 (still at club)
On a 100% certain trajectory to become England’s best defender, John Stones was wanted by both City and Chelsea but opted for a move to the Etihad.
Stones had failed to live up to expectations at City until very recently, and has really turned a corner this season.
He’s become an undroppable member of Pep Guardiola’s backline.
Cost: £4.2m (2013)
City Appearances: 106
32-year-old Martín Demichelis was brought in to offer some cover for then-manager Manuel Pellegrini’s side, but he went on to become a regular starter.
It wasn’t always smooth sailing for the veteran Argentine, but he persevered and played a huge role in the 2013/14 title triumph, earning himself a return to his national side as a result.
For just £4.2m, City picked up a loyal servant who more than held his own on the pitch, and you can’t ask for more than that.
Cost: £32m (2015)
City Appearances: 210
There’s a case to suggest that Nicolás Otamendi has overstayed his welcome at the Etihad.
Some fans will only remember his poor performances in 2018/19 and 2019/20, but the reality is that Otamendi was a star for the first three years of his contract.
As a two-time Premier League champion who earned a spot in the 2017/18 Team of the Year, Otamendi deserves to be remembered for the good times, not the bad.
Cost: £14m (2009)
City Appearances: 102
Back in the good old days when Arsenal were pretty much City’s feeder side, Kolo Touré was one of the first to make the jump between the two sides.
He was part of the City side who jumped out of mid-table mediocrity and towards European qualification, and although his role had diminished by the time City got their hands on the league title, Touré remained a regular part of Mancini’s side.
Without Touré, City’s inevitable run to glory would likely have been delayed a year or two.
Cost: £22m (2009)
City Appearances: 160
Joleon Lescott was one of City’s top targets during the summer of 2009, but for around 18 months, it looked as though he was destined to be a flop.
However, he eventually found form and ousted Touré from the team, forming a dominant partnership with Vincent Kompany, who would feature on this list if he was signed ten days later.
He was an integral part of ending City’s 35-year wait for a trophy by lifting the 2010/11 FA Cup, and he added two Premier League titles and a League Cup before leaving in 2014.
Cost: £57m (2018)
City Appearances: 92 (still at club)
After growing frustrated with years of inconsistent defenders, Guardiola approved a £57m move for Aymeric Laporte in January 2018, and it quickly became clear why.
The Frenchman has proven to be a perfect fit at City, quickly emerging as one of the Premier League’s finest centre-backs. He won the Premier League in each of his first two seasons and has also added two League Cups and an FA Cup for good measure.