7 former Manchester City players we can’t believe are still playing in 2022

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Manchester City's Roque Santa Cruz reacts following a challenge durign the League Cup game against Scunthorpe United. Etihad Stadium, Manchester, 28 October 2009.

It’s become cliched to say it now, but Manchester City are a club transformed from 15 years ago. Looking at some of their former players who are still playing in 2022 really drives that point home though.

City made some real mind-boggling signings during the Thaksin interlude and even in the early part of the Abu Dhabi era. Some of the weirdest are still going years after leaving the Etihad.

Here, we look at seven former City men we can’t believe are still playing in 2022.

Jo

Jo had a pretty bad time on the pitch at City but, by all accounts, he had a pretty good time sampling the nightlife on offer in Manchester city centre.

To be honest, we thought his career would just go into terminal decline after he left the Premier League, but he’s certainly had his moments.

He won the Copa Libertadores alongside Ronaldinho at Atletico Mineiro in 2012, and the Brazilian league title with Corinthians in 2017. Between that, he played in China and the UAE and probably pocketed a few quid.

Now, after a couple of years in Japan and another stint at boyhood club Corinthians, he’s joined up with Ceara in Brazil’s beautiful North East. Lovely.

Valeri Bojinov

When Bojinov signed for City in 2007, chief exec Alistair Mackintosh said: “Our signing of Valeri is another sign of the impact made by Dr Thaksin Shiniwatra and Sven-Goran Eriksson,” a sentence that sounds very weird 15 years later.

Mackintosh added: “Valeri is an exciting young player and a great addition to the squad.”

That bit was true, or at least the first bit was. Bojinov was exciting. But injuries prevented him from proving that he was a great addition to the squad.

He moved on to Parma in 2009 and has since played for 13 further clubs in Italy, Portugal, China, Switzerland and his native Bulgaria.

The thirteenth of those is the 36-year-old’s current side Septemvri Sofia, who are a lower mid-table club in the Bulgarian top flight.

Roque Santa Cruz

He’s 41, he still looks magnificent, and he’s still scoring goals like this for Libertad in the Paraguayan top tier. Outstanding.

Felipe Caicedo

When Caicedo arrived at City, Mark Hughes compared him to Adriano. But he definitely wasn’t as good as Adriano.

He has managed to forge out a thoroughly decent career though, as a not-very-prolific-but-makes-up-for-it-by-working-hard-and-bringing-team-mates-into-the-game sort of forward. 

Three years each at Lokomotiv Moscow and Espanyol were followed by four at Lazio, where he won the 2019 Coppa Italia. He then popped up at Inter for half a season from January 2022, which was weird.

Anyway, he’s now at Abha in Saudi Arabia.

Mario Balotelli

We’re not surprised that Balotelli is still playing owing to his age or injury history or anything, more just because of his endless antics. It’s a wonder anyone can put up with him.

He left his last club Adana Demirspor in August after almost coming to blows with his coach Vincenzo Montella, a story which probably brought all sorts of memories flooding back for Roberto Mancini.

Still, the talent is there, as 19 goals in 33 games for Adana Demirspor last season proved. That’s why Swiss club Sion have taken a punt on him.

Adana Demirspor's Mario Balotelli during the Turkish Super Lig match v Kasimpasa at Kasımpasa Stadium on April 17, 2022 in Istanbul, Turkey.

READ: ‘I want to slam him into a wall’: Mario Balotelli’s post-Man City career

Edin Dzeko

Speaking of ageing former City men who’ve played for Inter in 2022. Or in this case, who still play for Inter in 2022.

Dzeko was really really, good at City, probably better than he gets credit for. In 2013-14, he got 26 goals in all competitions, which was only two fewer than Sergio Aguero.

The fact he’s managed to stay at the top – playing for Roma and now Inter – until the ripe old age of 36 is proof of just how much quality the Bosnian possesses.

Jack Rodwell

After his much-publicised struggles following his departure from City – first at Sunderland, then Blackburn and Sheffield United – Rodwell moved to Australia to sign for Western Sydney Wanderers in 2021.

Yet after just playing just 14 games all season, he was unceremoniously released with the club issuing a pretty cold 49-word statement to announce the fact. It looked like it might be time for the 31-year-old to call it a day.

After two weeks on trial with local rivals Sydney FC in August 2022, though, Rodwell was handed another chance.

Sydney manager Steve Corica said: “I expect him to get even better this season; he is still in his peak years as a footballer and can excel in various positions.”

Let’s hope it works out. Rodwell certainly hasn’t had an easy time of it.


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