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City's investments pay dividends

May 14, 2012


Aguero justified the 38 million pounds City shelled out with 23 league goals, including the priceless winner 60 seconds from the end of stoppage time against Queens Park Rangers that ended the club's 44-year wait for the English title. -Photo by AFP

LONDON: Manchester City's unrivalled spending power since Abu Dhabi's Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan bought the club in 2008 has transformed them from erratic under-achievers into a force that could dominate the Premier League for years to come.

While spending other people's money is easy enough, identifying and buying the players to create the right mix on the field is the difficult part that Roberto Mancini and his support staff have achieved.

His predecessor Mark Hughes had mixed fortunes in the transfer market.

He got some right, such as the relatively trivial 6 million pounds ($9.66 million) paid out for Belgium defensive rock Vincent Kompany, but others, albeit not necessarily his choices, such as Robinho backfired in spectacular fashion.

With a first title for 44 years in the bag and their eyes now set on conquering Europe, City already look to have a squad capable of becoming serial collectors of silverware.

Mancini will not allow City to rest on their laurels, however, and knows a smarting Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea will be bulking up their squads.

But who are the players to take City forward and who may they target in the coming months to cement their place at the top of English football and challenge the likes of Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid on the continent?


Vincent Kompany

City may have scored 93 goals in the league but arguably the key to their success has been the Belgian defender's selfless leadership and reliability.

Not one of the club's glamour signings since the money began rolling in, Kompany has been a rock at the back, doing the spade work with a minimum of fuss.

Scored the winner against Manchester United in the 1-0 victory that put City in pole position in the title race and, at 26, looks set to be a leader for many years.

David Silva

The Spaniard has been a revelation this season since signing from Valencia for 24 million pounds and was electrifying in the first half of the season as City rained in goals galore.

A tremendously creative ball player with a strong work ethic, Silva appears to be a manager's dream.

Suffered a slight dip in form after Christmas as a first season in the helter-skelter Premier League took some shine off his performances but has become a firm favourite with fans.

Sergio Aguero

Carlos who? Aguero filled the gap left by the sulking Carlos Tevez perfectly, bringing loads of goals, clever link-up play and a commendable attitude to the table.

Has justified the 38 million pounds City shelled out with 23 league goals, including the priceless winner 60 seconds from the end of stoppage time against Queens Park Rangers that ended the club's 44-year wait for the English title.

Yaya Toure

All top sides need a driving force in midfield, a player who can snuff out danger and maraud forward to launch attacks.

Toure, signed from Barcelona for upwards of 20 million pounds, is very much in the mould of former Arsenal great Patrick Vieira, covering the ground like a racehorse and chipping in with vital goals, such as the two he bagged in the 2-0 defeat of Newcastle United.

No surprise that City's form suffered when he was away on African Nations duty with Ivory Coast.

Mario Balotelli

Mancini staked his reputation on the maverick Italian but, despite a few sleepless nights over his sometimes bizarre antics, there is no doubt Balotelli has proved invaluable.

Scored 13 goals in the league this season, many of them like the stoppage-time penalty in a 3-2 win over Tottenham, vital ones. Two red cards, the latest in a 1-0 defeat by Arsenal, had Mancini hinting that he may sell him, but the pair appear to have a love-hate relationship and he may get a reprieve.

Gael Clichy

Joined City rather unnoticed from Arsenal who seemed far more unhappy to let Samir Nasri depart for the north west but has outshone his former Gunners team mate, covering countless miles up and down the left flank.

Always a threat going forward in his Arsenal days, has improved defensively since joining City.


Radamel Falcao

With Edin Dzeko, despite his goal for City on the final day of the season, struggling for much of the season after a bright start and Carlos Tevez likely to be off, Atletico Madrid's Colombian striker could form a mouth-watering partnership with Aguero.

His two goals in the Europa League final made waves across the continent and with Atletico failing to qualify for the Champions League they may struggle to keep him should a huge offer arrive.

Raul Albiol

Real Madrid's defensive midfielder is likely to leave the Spanish champions this summer and his versatility will attract Mancini, particularly as he can play at right back - still a potential weakness for City.

Fernando Llorente

The Athletic Bilbao striker would be the perfect replacement for Dzeko should City allow him to return to Germany.

A target man with great feet, Llorente has proved himself at club and international level and Bilbao are unlikely to be able to turn down a big offer should City come in.