Ranking every centre-back to play for Man City since the 2008 takeover
Manchester City have signed plenty of centre-backs since the 2008 Sheikh Mansour takeover, but who has been the best?
As befitting a club who have often had more money than sense, this collection represents something of a mixed bag. There is, however, one clear winner that stands above all the rest.
We’ve ranked every player to have played centre-back for the club in the Premier League since the 2008-09 season, from worst to best.
21. Eliaquim Mangala
it’s worth remembering that BBC Sport described Mangala’s debut for City in September 2014 as a ‘colossal performance’. As a barometer for his time at the Eithad, it would prove more illusionary than anything Paul Daniels has ever put his name to.
His next outing, against Hull City, saw Mangala score an own goal and give away a penalty which sounds more like it.
Given his £42million fee, an eye-catching sum back then, Mangala must go down as one of City’s most disastrous ever signings.
20. Ryan McGivern
McGivern made one substitute appearance during a 5-0 win over Sunderland in 2011 which frankly still makes him better than Mangala.
19. Tal Ben Haim
City’s pre-takeover signings in the summer of 2008 make for quaint reading now. Alongside the prolific Jo and the return of Shaun Wright-Phillips was the acquisition of Ben Haim for a cool £5million.
His spell at the club was ignominious. After making his debut during a 4-2 defeat at Aston Villa, Ben Haim was quickly forgotten in the manner of an unwanted Christmas present after Sheikh Mansour’s arrival.
The Israeli stalwart was soon sent on loan to the footballing equivalent of purgatory, otherwise known as Sunderland. He then scored a hat-trick of relegations with Portsmouth, West Ham and QPR.
In any other list, he’d be bottom.
Two lies and a truth; Glauber Berti can count to a minute in 52 seconds, Glauber Berti destroyed the periodic table because he only recognises the element of surprise and Glauber Berti became a cult hero at City despite playing less than 10 minutes for the club.
We want to be loved like City fans loved Glauber.
17. Dedryck Boyata
It surprised us to discover Boyata was no longer at City. We genuinely thought he’d always be at the club, similar to an unused can of capers in your kitchen cupboard.
It didn’t have to be this way. After impressing at the start of the 2010-11 season, Boyata’s career at the Eithad was effectively over after being sent off in the first five minutes of a 3-0 defeat to Arsenal.
Just to make sure, he was sent off again at Blackburn during an FA Cup tie four years later. He now plays for Hertha Berlin.
16. Matija Nastasic
We’d put our life savings on Nastasic being a pointless answer should the Alexander Armstrong-hosted show ever have a question on City centre-backs.
Purchased for £25million by Manuel Pellegrini, Nastasic impressed fans with his initial performances and won City’s Player of the Month for November 2012.
Looking back, starting that fateful Cup final against Wigan was the beginning of the end. His second season in Manchester was beset by injury problems and the Serbia defender moved to Schalke in 2015.
15. Stefan Savic
Savic currently stars for Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid, which makes his one forgettable season in east Manchester seem like a misprint.
14. Jerome Boateng
Just like United rued their decision to let Gerard Pique leave, the City hierarchy must have had a few sleepless nights as they’ve watched Boateng hoover up every club trophy going.
Reminiscent of the way West Ham preferred Hayden Mullins and Nigel Quashie over Javier Mascherano, Boateng was forced to play almost exclusively at right-back during his one season at the Eithad.
Understandably pissed off, Boateng requested a move to Bayern Munich where he continues to add to his medal collection to this day.
Sometimes, you just don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone.
13. Richard Dunne
Manchester City going from Richard Dunne to Vincent Kompany was a glow-up comparable to that of Made in Chelsea’s Sam Thompson.
Granted, this is slightly unfair on a true club stalwart. Dunne served City well throughout the 2000s, winning over the club’s fans with his committed performances.
At the same time, it’s worth remembering the Ireland international holds the record for most sendings off (eight) and most own goals (10) in the Premier League era. He was always likely to be quickly jettisoned in City’s quest for world domination.
12. Nedum Onuoha
Homegrown, solid but ultimately not quite good enough to meet raised expectations.
If City had remained a mid-table side, then Onuoha would have starred in defence for years.
As it was, his main contribution to City’s 2012 title win came as part of the QPR defence that facilitated Martin Tyler’s ‘Agueroooooooo’ moment.
11. Nathan Ake
Comfortable playing at both centre-back and left-back, it’s understandable why Pep Guardiola signed Ake in the summer of 2020.
His time at City has been stop-start so far. Injuries have slowed his progress while being part of the defence that shipped five at home to Leicester wasn’t the best of first impressions.
Safe to say the jury is still out on this one.
10. Micah Richards
Normally a right-back for City, Richards made over fifty appearances at centre-back during the 2008-09 season.
Mark Hughes’ team may have only finished 10th that year, but the Mancunian performed ably at the heart of their defence.
Like a teenager failing to do any revision for an exam, but still scrapping a pass, that’s enough for a top 10 placing here.
"Did you burst on to the scene? Very few defenders burst on to the scene." 👀
Micah Richards reflects on his emergence, although Roy Keane did not seem to agree! 🤣 pic.twitter.com/EEqFCvac66
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) March 8, 2020
9. Martin Demichelis
Yes, at first glance Demichelis looks like a classic defensive flop. Yes, he was charged by the FA for 12 breaches of their gambling legislation. Yes, he was sent off in the Nou Camp.
Alternatively, the Argentina international’s form at the back-end of the 2013-14 season was instrumental in City overhauling Liverpool to win the title.
To summarise, he wasn’t as bad you might think.
8. Ruben Dias
Signed for £61million as part of Pep’s plan to close the gap on Liverpool, Dias has formed a promising partnership with Aymeric Laporte.
City may look in urgent need of a refresh, but Dias should become an integral part of the club’s backline.
7. Eric Garcia
For a man who only made his Premier League debut last season, Garcia has become an important member of City’s team.
The 19-year-old’s potential is illustrated by the fact Guardiola has bemoaned the fact Garcia has rejected a contract extension with the club.
Time will tell whether Garcia will give the best years of his career to City.
6. Kolo Toure
His on-field contribution? Good.
His off-field personality? Legendary.
5. John Stones
Like Phil Jones, Stones became a by-word for defensive mishaps after joining a Manchester-based club.
This reputation overshadows how good the Yorkshireman was at his peak. Stones was one of the standout performers in the ‘Centurion’ season and those who touted him as the ‘English Beckenbauer’ were not met with the usual guffaws.
It’s a shame Stones has slipped since then, his lowest point coming when he was linked with a move to Arsenal.
His peak may not have lasted for long, but such an elegant defender deserves to be remembered for more than his gaffes.
4. Nicolas Otamendi
Another defender who was considerably better for City than conventional wisdom suggests, Otamendi was present during City’s era of dominance in the late 2010s.
Often a scapegoat at the Etihad, the fact the Argentina international was named in the 2018 PFA Team of the Year underlies his contribution to the cause.
He also scored a winner at Old Trafford that precipitated one of Jose Mourinho’s more hilarious post-match meltdowns.
Not too bad.
3. Aymeric Laporte
Some pundits claimed that Laporte’s absence was the main reason City fell so short of Liverpool in the 2019-20 season.
His injury problems preclude him from the top two here, but what a player on his day.
2. Joleon Lescott
Think back to the iconic moments of early Sheikh City, when success still had a novel feel to it; Yaya Toure ramming the ball past Edwin van der Sar at Wembley, the first Cup win since 1976, the 6-1 at Old Trafford, Aguerroooooooo.
Lescott was playing in all those matches. Strong in the air and quick on his feet, the defender formed a close partnership with Vincent Kompany that saw the club rise above the long-standing illness known as ‘City-itis’.
If Roberto Mancini, the hardest man to please in football, rated Lescott then that’s more than good enough for us.
1. Vincent Kompany