Mahrez to Man City: Record signings in the Sheikh Mansour era
Mahrez has joined the Premier League champions on a five-year deal for a reported £60million, launching him to the top of the pile in City’s spending list.
Aymeric Laporte became their record signing in January but his £57m arrival from Athletic Bilbao has now been surpassed – the sixth time the club has set a new benchmark since Sheikh Mansour’s 2008 takeover.
Here, we take a look at the players who City have splashed the most cash on – how have they fared at the Etihad Stadium?
Robinho – £32.5m from Real Madrid, September 2008
September 1, 2008 was a breathless affair at Manchester City. It began with breaking news of a takeover and talk of untold riches, rumbled forward with transfer speculation as remarkable as it was baffling and ended – sensationally – with a British record purchase of Robinho. The lavishly gifted Brazilian brought the house down with a goal on his debut against Chelsea – City eventually lost 3-1 – and produced some magical moments on his way to 15 goals in 2008-09. A lack of consistency frustrated Mark Hughes and quickly persuaded Roberto Mancini to move Robinho on, but his signing will forever be synonymous with City’s horizons changing beyond all recognition.
Sergio Aguero – £38m from Atletico Madrid, July 2012
Much of City’s vast outlay after Robinho focused upon established stars with their reputations set and, perhaps, their best years behind them. Mancini’s initial overhaul, featuring the purchases of Yaya Toure and David Silva, was a decisive step in the right direction and yielded an FA Cup. But it was a 23-year-old Aguero, a one-time teen sensation who had taken LaLiga by storm, who propelled City towards a title he would secure in such unforgettable fashion. In every season at the club, barring an injury-hit 2012-13, he has topped the scoring charts and in November 2017 became City’s all-time leading scorer. An unqualified success.
Raheem Sterling – £49m from Liverpool, July 2015
Much conjecture and controversy surrounded Sterling’s move from City to Liverpool and, despite early promise under Mauricio Pellegrini, the baggage of a transfer that saw him become the most expensive English player in history appeared to weigh heavily on the winger. But the 23-year-old has flourished under Pep Guardiola and is now an indispensable member of City’s attacking line, even having the audacity to challenge Aguero’s status as leading marksman last season.
Kevin De Bruyne – £55m from Wolfsburg, August 2015
De Bruyne ensured Sterling’s spell as City’s record signing was short-lived and instantly lived up to his reputation as goalscoring midfielder and assist machine. A disjointed City limped to a fourth-place Premier League finish in 2015-16. Even then, it was not entirely unreasonable to suggest they might have won the title had De Bruyne not missed two months with ankle ligament damage. He was already so pivotal and Guardiola’s shrewd decision to move De Bruyne into a slightly deeper midfield role has established him as City’s beating heart. It is impossible to imagine this swashbuckling side without the 27-year-old Belgium star, who was handsomely rewarded with a new contract in January.
Aymeric Laporte – £57m from Athletic Bilbao, January 2015
Guardiola has had a decisive influence over the upward trajectories enjoyed by Sterling and De Bruyne and spent in the region of £50m apiece for John Stones, Kyle Walker and Benjamin Mendy, but Laporte was the first player to persuade him to set a new transfer record at City. Stylistically, it is easy to see why, with the 23-year-old an elegant, ball-playing defender very much in the Guardiola mould. Dictated by his Athletic release clause, it was a staggering fee for a player without a senior international cap but the fact Brazilian goalkeeper Ederson was in the same boat when he arrived from Benfica for £34.7m last year means the manager’s instinct should be trusted. Laporte made nine Premier League appearances last term and will be expected to kick on in 2018-19.
Riyad Mahrez – £60m from Leicester City, July 2018
Mahrez almost signed for City at the end of the January transfer window, only for the move to fall through on deadline day. But, as with Laporte, Guardiola and City have shown they are willing to wait for their man. Mahrez made no secret of his desire to move on from Leicester and will now get the chance to show he deserves the big move he so craved. Mahrez was a huge part of the Foxes’ unlikely title triumph, named the PFA Player’s Player of the Year in the 2015-16 season, but he has failed to hit those heights consistently in the last two years. Surrounded by elite talent, though, Mahrez will surely shine after surpassing Laporte to become City’s most expensive arrival.