Man City's best transfers of all-time - ranked

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Erling Haaland, Yaya Toure, and Sergio Aguero all paid off their transfer fees by firing Man City to glory - but who is the club's greatest signing?

After firing Manchester City to the treble in his debut campaign, Erling Haaland has been a roaring success since signing for Borussia Dortmund last year. But he has still only had one year at the Etihad Stadium and the Norwegian has a long way to go before he can be talked off as the club's best ever signing.

Colin Bell has a stand at the stadium named after him while three members of City's first Premier League title winning side have statues outside the ground. But which player is the club's greatest signing of all? GOAL ranks the club's 10 best ever transfers...

  1. Shaun Goater

    #10 Shaun Goater

    City were on the precipice of disaster when former Manchester United striker Goater arrived from Bristol City for £510,000 in 1998. He couldn't stop them from being relegated to the third tier - the lowest point in the club's history - and City needed to bounce back quickly.

    Goater became the spearhead of back-to-back promotions, scoring 50 goals in two seasons as City made a stunning return to the Premier League.

    His most iconic moment came in the final Manchester derby at Maine Road in 2002, when he scored twice in a 3-1 victory - the first win against Sir Alex Ferguson's side in 13 years. With 103 goals in 211 appearances, Goater's role in City's history cannot be underestimated.

  2. Pablo Zabaleta
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    #9 Pablo Zabaleta

    The final signing before the Sheikh Mansour-era began, it was spirit and desire that made Zabaleta such a success in his nine years at the club.

    Mark Hughes was brought to City because of his talent-spotting ability, and no player epitomised his eye for raw quality more than Zabaleta, who cost just £6m when joining from Espanyol. It became almost regulation for the Argentine to leave the pitch with a bandage around his head or bloody nose, such was his commitment.

    But that was matched with a huge amount of talent, as he won his battle with Micah Richards to become the first choice right-back under both Roberto Mancini and Manuel Pellegrini. After 333 appearances, two Premier League titles, an FA Cup and two League Cups, Zabaleta left for West Ham on a free transfer, twice returning to rapturous welcomes.

  3. Carlos Tevez
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    #8 Carlos Tevez

    Tevez became a cult figure at City before he had even kicked a ball after the way he ditched Manchester United to move five miles down the road. City announced the signing with their famous "Welcome To Manchester" billboard - a dig at the fact that Old Trafford is outside the city - which riled Sir Alex Ferguson and sparked a tense rivalry.

    United fans had wanted Tevez to stay after his two years at the club, but as talks stalled, City pounced and, in 2011, the Argentine helped them to their first trophy in 35 years when they beat Stoke City in the FA Cup final.

    City won the league title the following season, but it wasn't all plain sailing, with Tevez disappearing for more than four months after a bust-up with boss Roberto Mancini. He celebrated his return, however, with a now-iconic golf swing goal celebration after being pictured playing golf during his hiatus.

  4. Erling Haaland

    #7 Erling Haaland

    Haaland arrived at City with an already astonishing strike rate but after a rusty debut in the Community Shield, some wondered whether he would be as prolific in the Premier League. He crushed any doubts with two goals on his league debut against West Ham and barely looked back.

    The Norwegian sent long-standing records by greats such as Mohamed Salah, Alan Shearer and Andy Cole tumbling on his way to scoring 36 times in his debut season, finishing the campaign with a jaw-dropping 52 goals in 53 matches in all competitions.

    Most importantly, he helped City ended their long wait to win the Champions League in his first campaign with the club, embracing the fact that they had signed him to finally land their holy grail. The £51 million City paid for him already looks like a bargain.

  5. Colin Bell

    #6 Colin Bell

    There is only one stand at Manchester City named after a former player, and that player is the man nicknamed "The King of the Kippax". Bell joined from Bury for £47,500 - less than £1 million in today's money - and went onto become, for many, the greatest player in the club's history.

    His energy and goalscoring prowess made him one of the most complete players of his era, and in a golden period for the club he won the title, FA Cup, two League Cups and a European Cup Winners' Cup.

    A serious knee injury impacted his later career, but he still accumulated 501 appearances for the club, as well as 48 caps for England. He died in January 2021, and the 2022-23 home shirt was designed as a tribute to the great City team of the late 1960's, with Bell in mind.

  6. Ilkay Gundogan

    #5 Ilkay Gundogan

    Gundogan was Guardiola's first signing and an absolute snip at only £20 million. The German's first season at the club was destroyed by a serious knee injury but he came back stronger and played his part in the tsunami of success that came next.

    The midfielder seemed to get better with every year, truly discovering his goalscoring touch in the 2020/21 season by scoring 13 times to help reclaim the title. That was his most prolific season but he routinely showed up when City needed him most, snatching the 2021/22 title from Liverpool with his two quick-fire strikes on the final day of the season against Aston Villa.

    And in his final match on English soil he scored the fastest goal in FA Cup final history and the winner to down Manchester United. He could not have chosen a better way to depart the club which he served so well and for so long.

  7. David Silva
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    #4 David Silva

    City pulled off a coup by beating Barcelona and Real Madrid to the signing of Silva shortly after he had helped Spain lift the World Cup in 2010. There were some concerns that the diminutive playmaker would not be physical enough for English football, but after a slow start, he quickly settled that issue.

    Nicknamed 'El Mago', Silva matched his incredible vision and quick feet with a fighting spirit that often went under appreciated. Many see him as the most talented player to ever wear the City shirt, and from 436 appearances, he won four Premier League titles, two FA Cups and five League Cups.

    The coronavirus pandemic robbed the City fans of an opportunity to say their farewells before he returned to Spain following a remarkable and successful decade in blue.

  8. Yaya Toure

    #3 Yaya Toure

    The Ivorian was the signing that turned City from a club with big ambitions into a genuine force and he was instrumental to their rise to the behemoth they are today. His arrival from Barcelona for £28 million signalled that the club truly meant business and unlike previous big-money signings such as Robinho, he had the leadership skills as well as the world class quality City needed to reach the next level.

    It was Toure who scored the goal that sunk Manchester United in the FA Cup semi-final and it was Toure who got the only strike in the final against Stoke which ended City's 35-year wait for a trophy.

    And when City were on the verge of throwing away their chance to topple United in the 2011/12 Premier League title race, it was Toure who struck twice against Newcastle and put them back on track. Perhaps City's most transformative signing of all.

  9. Vincent Kompany
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    #2 Vincent Kompany

    Signed just before the Sheikh Mansour-era began, Kompany would become the leader on the pitch as City transformed into one of the most successful clubs in England. The Belgian was playing in the Bundesliga with Hamburg and being tracked by top European clubs when Mark Hughes convinced Kompany to move to the Etihad for what would turn out to be a bargain £6m.

    He was still to decide his best position, occasionally playing a a defensive midfielder, but it soon became apparent that he would become a leading centre-back. In 11 years at the club, Kompany made 360 appearances and collected four Premier League winners' medals, as well as winning the FA Cup twice and League Cup four times. He was named the 2011-12 Premier League Player of the Season and was inducted into the competition's Hall of Fame in 2022.

    Persistent injuries hampered his later years at City, but he was still a key figure under Guardiola and scored an unforgettable 30-yard strike against Leicester City on what would be his final appearance at the Etihad - leaving the pitch in tears after waving goodbye.

  10. Sergio Aguero

    #1 Sergio Aguero

    The £35 million that City paid Atletico Madrid for Aguero looks like an utter bargain following his 10 epic years of service. The Argentina striker left as the greatest goalscorer in the club's history with 260 goals, blitzing Eric Brook's record of 177 that had stood since 1940.

    Adding in three Community Shield medals, he is City's most decorated player with five Premier League titles, six League Cups and an FA Cup success.

    Then there was the most iconic moment in Premier League history when he scored the 94th-minute winner against Queens Park Rangers on the final day of the 2012 season to secure City's first title in 44 years. Already in the Premier League Hall of Fame, he more then earned his statue outside the Etihad Stadium.