Since Manchester City were taken over in 2008, they have spent well over £1 billion in transfer fees. With these huge transfers have come some huge stars – Sergio Aguero, Yaya Toure and David Silva to name but a few. However, along with these legends come a number of flop transfer signings from Manchester City.
They have wasted hundreds of millions over the last 13 on players who have flopped at the Etihad. From international superstars to promising youngsters, you never know who is going to make it or not in football.
Here are some of the biggest transfer flops from Manchester City since the takeover in 2008
Man City’s transfer flops since 2008
Brazilian striker Jo was the first big signing for Man City in the summer of 2008. He became City’s record signing when he joined from CSKA Moscow in a £19 million deal.
Despite the huge fanfare, Jo’s time at the City of Manchester Stadium was no a successful one. Despite being the first peace in the billion pound puzzle at City, Jo only managed four goals in the Premier league, with a further two in all competitions.
He spent the majority of his time out on loan, with his most notable spell at Everton. However, he only managed 5 goals in two seasons on loan at Everton, and his time in England was a flop. His record transfer fee was quickly overshadowed that season anyway, so he wasn’t the main man at City for long.
Jo was one of the biggest transfers in the clubs history. His failure on the pitch shows him to be a huge flop for Manchester City, and one of the clubs biggest failed transfers.
One of the most disappointing flop signings for Man City was Jack Rodwell.
When he was coming through at Everton, Jack Rodwell was one of the most promising midfielders in England. He made his debut for Everton at 16 years of age, and was highly rated by everyone on Merseyside.
However, Rodwell’s years with the Toffee’s were plagued with injuries, and he struggle to establish himself in the team. His talent was clear though, and it earned him the interest of Manchester City, who were challenging for the Premier League title.
Manchester City paid £12 million, rising to £15 million, for Everton to buy Jack Rodwell. However, it seemed a strange signing for Manchester City, based on their existing depth in midfield. Rodwell was already behind Gareth Barry, Nigel De Jong and Owen Hargraves in the pecking order at City, so his path to becoming a starter looked murky.
And murky it was. Rodwell, through competition and injuries, couldn’t force his way into Robert Mancini’s side. He played 11 times in his debut season, as Manchester City came second place, behind Manchester United. He started well in the season, but injuries forced him to the side-lines.
The following year, he found even less success. He only played 5 times in the Premier League, failing to score in all competitions. However, his five appearances did mean he was eligible to receive a Premier League winners medal, the only medal of his career so far.
He left Manchester City after two signings, signing for Sunderland.
Benjamin Mendy joined Manchester City from Monaco in 2017. He had been part of the Monaco side that shocked the world and beat PSG to the Ligue 1 title, thanks to the emergence of a young Kylian Mbappe. The fee was a eyewatering £52 million, which made him one of the many £50 million full backs Pep Guardiola has signed for Man City.
He started well at City, putting in some good performances at the start of his debut season. However, he would tear his ACL in September, and end up missing the majority of the season. His injury problems would start there and they would simply not stop.
Even in his best season, he only managed to play half of the Premier League matches. A combination of injuries and lack of form meant he was rarely in the starting eleven for the great Man City side. However, even with his limited appearance, he would pick up a number of winners medals during his time with City.
If £52 million for a player who barely played wasn’t a enough to call him a Manchester City transfer flop, what happened earlier this year made it so much worse.
Mendy has recently been arrested and charged with multiple accounts of rape and sexual assault. He has been denied bail three times, and is set to go on trial early next year. It came as a huge shock, with Mendy reportedly being a very friendly and jovial part of the Manchester City squad.
Manchester City signed one of the most promising centre backs in the world when they signed Eliaquin Mangala. £42 million pounds was shelled out for the young Frenchman, which bought them a number of poor performances and a awful return on their investment.
Mangala was one of the most sought after young players in the world before signing for City. He starred for Porto as they managed an undefeated, title winning season. Manchester City attempted to sign him multiple times before finally securing the deal for him in 2014.
Long story short, he did absolutely nothing at City. Mangala never secured a place in the team, and never showed why they paid so much money for him.
He did have some great performances at Everton on loan, but injury soon curtailed his season and he returned to Manchester City. He has since moved to Valencia where he has performed adequately in La Liga
Roque Santa Cruz
Blackburn Rovers got one of the deals of the century when they signed Roque Santa Cruz. The Paraguay striker was out of sorts at Bayern Munich when Blackburn signed him for £3.5 million.
The deal turned out to be one of the biggest bargains in Premier League history. He played in all but one game for Blackburn that year, and fired 19 goals for the Lancashire side. Roque Santa Cruz was a revelation for Blackburn, and had them dreaming of European football again.
The next season was less successful, with injuries and poor form leaving him with just four league goals.
This did not deter Manchester City, however. Despite his flop in the second season, Manchester City still forked out £17.5 million for the Paraguayan’s signature. However, they also splashed out a combined £50 million for Emmanuel Adebayor and Carlos Tevez. This knocked him immediately down the pecking order, and was never really given the chance to be the main man in Manchester.
It was a similar situation to Bayern Munich, and the results were similar. In four years, he only played twenty times in the league for Man City. In those twenty games, he only found the net three times in a disappointing spell.
Saying he was a flop in an understatement. Manchester City paid about £6 million per goal from the Paraguay striker, not counting his wages of £70,000 a week. He was a sad flop at Manchester City, because he could have stayed at Blackburn Rovers and built something.
The 2008 takeover of Manchester City was exemplified with the signing of Robinho on deadline day of 2008. All summer Chelsea had been caughting the Brazilian, who had been labelled “the next Pele”. They were in a sure fire position to sign him that summer.
However, Manchester City caught everyone – including Robinho – by surprise when they announced they had signed the Brazilian. Robinho reportedly thought he was signing for Manchester United, which was a great embarrassment for the Citizens.
Despite raising the profile of Manchester City with his transfer, Robinho only spent 18 months as a Man City players. His first season was successful. Robinho scored 14 times in the Premier League in 31 matches, although only helping City to a tenth place finish.
His second season was plagued by injuries, and he only scored once. That goal was against Scunthorpe in the FA Cup. He only played ten games in the league, and this season was a massive flop for Manchester City.
He left in January on loan to Santos, before joining Milan on a permanent deal the following summer. While his signing for Manchester City signalled a huge intent to compete with the best, his performances on the pitch did not bring city to the next level as they would have hoped.
Robinho was recently convicted on a gang rape on a woman, and is currently wanted for those crimes. If he ever steps foot in Italy, he will be arrested and thrown into jail for a nine-year sentence. It is one of the worst football crimes in history.
When Pep Guardiola joined Manchester City, he immediately identified Joe Hart as not suited to his style of play. He needed a new goal keeper, more in the mould of Victor Valdes, who he had during his spell at Barcelona.
He identified Claudio Bravo, Barcelona’s Chilean goal keeper who had impressed at the World Cup. Bravo was short for a goalkeeper, only 6 foot tall, but showed incredible ability with his feet and his passing range was on the top end for a goal keeper. He looked to have everything Pep wanted in a goalkeeper.
However, Claudio Bravo came in to Manchester City and had fans begging for Joe Hart to come back into the team. He made constant blunders in his maiden season, with his skills with the ball at his feet not enough to make up for it. This included conceded two goals in two games, letting in every shot he faced. This caused him to finally be dropped for backup keeper Willy Caballero.
Bravo played twenty-two times in the league in his first season, but only seven times in the next three seasons. I was surprised to see he was still there in 2020, when I was sure he left after his second season. He left for Real Betis four years after signing for City.
Claudio Bravo was one of the most expensive goal keepers in Premier League history, and has to be classed as a poor signing. He was a huge flop for Manchester City, with his signing meant to be the next Victor Valdes, not the next Kepa.