Manchester City

Manchester City

Premier League • England

Man City expulsion: Top 10 most expensive Cityzens sales ever amid FFP punishment scrutiny

Raheem Sterling, Gabriel Jesus and Ferran Torres

Man City banked more than £130m with the sales of Sterling, Jesus and Torres alone

Manchester City are under intense scrutiny for their finances once again after the punishments handed out to Everton and Nottingham Forest this season.

Everton and Forest have both been deducted points by the Premier League, leading some to wonder what the magnitude of punishment should be for a club with 115 charges (which they deny) hanging over them, if found guilty. Could it be a bigger deduction, or even expulsion from the top flight?

On the pitch, Man City have been one of the best teams on the planet in recent years. Off it, though, there have been complaints about how their success has been funded.

Man City have spent millions upon millions of pounds to strengthen their squad, but it is quite evident that not all of that money has been generated from selling their own players.

In some cases, they have enjoyed peak spells by players like Ilkay Gundogan and Sergio Aguero before letting them leave for free at the ends of their contracts.

In fact, the highest transfer fee Man City have ever received for a player to date – that is, since no one has given them an inevitably eye-watering fee to prise Erling Haaland away yet – was of a value that would not get in the top 10 highest fees they have paid for players.

Here, TEAMtalk looks at the top 10 most expensive sales Man City have made to date, ranking them by the size of the initial fee.

10. Alvaro Negredo (Valencia, £23.7m)

City paid £16.4m to bring Alvaro Negredo to the Premier League from Sevilla in 2013, one month after Jesus Navas had tread the same path.

Under new manager Manuel Pellegrini, Negredo managed to score 23 goals in his debut season with City, although only nine of those were in the league.

In turn, City agreed a deal just a year after buying the Spaniard that would see him return to his native country by joining Valencia on loan, with a commitment to a permanent deal.

Thus, in 2015, although he had only scored six goals in his debut season with Valencia, Los Che paid City £23.7m to keep Negredo.

9. Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City, £25m)

After impressing at the under-17 World Cup in 2013, Kelechi Iheanacho earned a place in City’s academy by late 2014.

His senior debut followed in August 2015 and the striker went on to score a respectable 21 goals from 64 games over the next couple of seasons.

However, City cashed in on Iheanacho in 2017, selling him to a Leicester side who had just finished 12th the season after their shock Premier League title win.

Leicester paid £25m for Iheanacho, who has played for them ever since.

8. Riyad Mahrez (Al-Ahli, £30m)

Riyad Mahrez made 236 appearances for Man City, scored 78 goals and made 59 assists

Much of City’s financial power stems from their Middle East ownership, and in 2023, a new force emerged in the region when Saudi Arabia started investing heavily in big names.

City sold two players to Saudi clubs last summer: Aymeric Laporte joined Al-Nassr for £23.5m, just missing out on this top 10, and Riyad Mahrez joined Al-Ahli for £30m.

Mahrez had originally been City’s record signing – and the most expensive African footballer ever – when they spent £60m to sign him from Leicester in 2018.

The Algerian winger went on to enjoy five seasons at the Etihad Stadium, hitting double figures of goals in each of them and winning the league in all but one.

As the final year of his contract approached and after failing to feature in either the FA Cup or Champions League final during City’s treble win, Mahrez made way in the summer of 2023 to become Al-Ahli’s record signing for half the price City signed him for.

7. Oleksandr Zinchenko (Arsenal, £30m rising to £32m)

One interesting aspect of City’s outgoing business in recent years is that they haven’t been afraid of selling players to direct rivals in the Premier League.

For example, in 2022, Oleksandr Zinchenko was one of two City players to join Arsenal, who subsequently became the biggest threat to Pep Guardiola’s side for the league title that season.

Zinchenko was bought by City for just £1.6m back in 2016, before developing on loan at PSV and then earning more than 100 appearances for his new parent club by virtue of his versatility.

Nevertheless, City allowed Zinchenko to move on in 2022, when their former assistant manager Mikel Arteta took him to Arsenal.

Representing one of City’s best ever profits, the fee was an initial £30m, which would potentially rise to £32m with add-ons activated.

6. Danilo (Juventus, £34.1m)

Technically, Danilo’s departure from City was within a part-exchange deal that allowed them to sign Joao Cancelo from Juventus, but each player still had to be assigned a monetary value for Financial Fair Play purposes.

Danilo’s involvement in the operation was worth just over £34m, giving them a profit on their original £26.5m payment to Real Madrid two years down the line.

For a time at least, the Danilo-Cancelo swap worked for all parties. Cancelo became one of the best full-backs in the Premier League until he fell out with Guardiola; he is now enjoying a loan spell with Barcelona.

Danilo, meanwhile, has become Juventus’ captain, impressing with his adaptability in defence.

5. Cole Palmer (Chelsea, £40m rising to £42.5m)

While City have invested heavily in established stars, they have also made their academy one of the strongest in the country, leading to the production of talents like Cole Palmer.

The attacking midfielder earned 41 first-team appearances for City before deciding he would have a better chance of establishing himself elsewhere and joining Chelsea in the summer of 2023.

Safe to say, the move has paid off for Palmer. He has led the way for the otherwise turbulent Blues in 2023/24, topping their charts for goals and assists.

His form also led to him receiving his first senior England caps in the autumn months, and the momentum has not dissipated at all.

Some thought Chelsea – another club in the spotlight for their spending – had overpaid for Palmer given his relative lack of starts for City, but he is proving his worth. In fact, recent reports have even claimed they think his value has doubled already compared to what they paid City.

Cole Palmer says it was very difficult to leave Manchester City

4. Leroy Sane (Bayern, £44.7m rising to £54.8m)

Signed in Guardiola’s first transfer window with City, Leroy Sane went on to become an impactful player out wide despite never setting foot in the Premier League before.

City spent £37m to sign Sane from Schalke and he rewarded them with some exciting form over the next three seasons.

Unfortunately, he missed most of his fourth and final City season due to a serious injury. It didn’t stop the Sky Blues being able to turn a profit on him, though, when selling him back to the Bundesliga.

Bayern took Sane back to his native Germany for an initial £44.7m, which would become a £54.8m investment including add-ons.

If all those add-ons were to be met, Sane would become City’s most expensive export of all time.

3. Gabriel Jesus (Arsenal, £45m)

A couple of weeks before Zinchenko followed suit, Gabriel Jesus joined Arsenal from City to reunite with Arteta, after being identified as a missing piece up front for the Gunners.

Jesus was brought to England in the first place by City, who spotted his potential in Brazil where he was playing for Palmeiras.

Jesus cost City £27m and quickly established himself as a useful rotation option up front for Aguero. In later seasons, he also adapted to a role on the wing so City could accommodate as many attacking stars as possible.

But three days after the signing of Haaland from Borussia Dortmund for just over £51m, City let Jesus go for £45m.

It simply has to go down as smart business; Haaland instantly became a Premier League record-breaker with his goalscoring feats, whereas Jesus has struggled for consistency at Arsenal, who are in the market for another upgrade at centre-forward this year.

2. Ferran Torres (Barcelona, £46.3m rising to £54.7m)

Ferran Torres was just 20 years old when City picked him up from Valencia for £20.8m. Despite his tender years, the forward scored 13 goals in his debut season.

However, it was actually the only full season he spent with City. Midway through the following campaign, he was tempted back to LaLiga by Barcelona.

The deal was agreed ahead of the January 2022 transfer window, with Barcelona paying an initial £46.3m and potentially topping the fee up to £54.7m depending on certain clauses.

City managing to double their money on the player within 18 months was certainly a useful piece of business, especially when Torres seemed to have had his head turned anyway.

1. Raheem Sterling (Chelsea, £47.5m rising to £50m)

Another player City signed at the age of 20, Raheem Sterling became their record signing (until the addition of Kevin De Bruyne a month and a half later) and the most expensive English player there had been up to that point.

Sterling had broke onto the scene with Liverpool, but rejected their attempts to improve his contract in 2015, opening the door for City to come in with some bids.

The one they succeeded with was worth £44m, plus another £5m in add-ons. And so began a seven-year stay in Manchester for the winger, who would score double figures of goals in each and every one of those seasons.

In 2022, Sterling was coming towards the final year of his contract at the Etihad Stadium. Ultimately, it led to his departure, as he completed a cross-Premier League transfer to Chelsea.

No one could have predicted just how aggressively Chelsea would start to spend as Sterling became the first senior signing of Todd Boehly’s ownership – and the most lavish transfer window ever recorded.

Chelsea spent £47.5m on Sterling, which would later be eclipsed by two other more expensive deals in a record-breaking transfer window that admittedly failed to generate on-field success in west London.

City, meanwhile, never looked back and went on to win the treble, testament to how Guardiola has continually maintained momentum at the club regardless of personnel changes.

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