How Man City made over £750m in player transfer sales: From Sancho to Sterling

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Leroy Sane Raheem Sterling Manchester City Transfer Gurus GFXGetty/GOAL

Manchester City invested heavily to transform themselves from a mid-table Premier League into one of the best squads on the planet. Since Sheikh Mansour took over the club in 2011, they have been ready to spend big sums on the right player to get them where they want to be.

From Brazilian superstar Robinho on the day Mansour bought City, to the £100 million ($120m) British record transfer of Jack Grealish, the onus has always been on making the team stronger.

But as they have become more successful, City have become adept at handling the transfer market – walking away from proposed deals for Harry Maguire, Fred, Jorginho and Marc Cucurella, which they didn’t think represented value for money.

That has also seen them become more agile under director of football Txiki Begiristain, allowing players to leave the club and making significant profits on some of those that were thought to be surplus to requirements.

Here, GOAL runs down the most expensive players sold by the six-time Premier League winners…

Man City's biggest transfer sales by season

Season

Biggest Sale

Fee

Total Sales

2022-23

Raheem Sterling

£47.5m

£140m

2021-22

Ferran Torres

£47m

£85m

2020-21

Leroy Sane

£55m

£70m

2019-20

Danilo

£33m

£64m

2018-19

Brahim Diaz

£15m

£52m

2017-18

Kelechi Iheanacho

£25m

£52m

2016-17

Stevan Jovetic

£12m

£32m

2015-16

Alvaro Negredo

£23.7m

£61m

2014-15

Javi Garcia

£13m

£27m

2013-14

Carlos Tevez

£12m

£14m

2012-13

Mario Balotelli

£18m

£40m

2011-12

Jerome Boateng

£12m

£28m

2010-11

Robinho

£19m

£36m

2009-10

Elano

£6.5m

£28m

2008-09

Vedran Corluka

£8m

£24m

2007-08

Joey Barton

£6m

£9m

2006-07

David James

£1.5m

£4m

2005-06

Shaun Wright-Phillips

£21m

£22m

2004-05

Nicolas Anelka

£7m

£8m

2003-04

Matias Vuoso

£1.3m

£6m

2002-03

Dickson Etuhu

£1m

£1m

2001-02

Mark Kennedy

£2m

£6m

2000-01

Lee Peacock

£800,000

£1.5m

Man City's 10 most expensive sales

  • Shaun Wright-PhillipsGetty

    Shaun Wright-Phillips | £21m | Chelsea | 2005

    Many hearts were broken when City eventually allowed homegrown hero Wright-Phillips to join big-spending Chelsea in July 2005.

    City were a different club then, finishing eighth and missing out on European qualification on the final day of the previous season, while Chelsea had just been crowned champions.

    Unable to match the ambition of a player that had broken into the England side, Wright-Phillips reluctantly left, although he had a mixed time at Stamford Bridge.

    He returned to the Etihad four years later for just £9m ($11m) and was part of the squad that delivered the first trophy in 35 years when City won the FA Cup in 2011.

  • 2019-04-14 Sancho DortmundGetty Images

    Jadon Sancho | £21.2m | Borussia Dortmund | 2017

    City bought the winger from Watford for around £500,000 ($600,000) and sold him at the age of 17 without him having played a single minute for the first team.

    There was no doubt about Sancho’s talent as he progressed through the club’s Academy at the same time as Phil Foden but he was impatient to make an impact in the first team.

    With a year left on his contract, he stopped training and Dortmund eventually signed him for £10m ($12m) and he quickly became a success in the Bundesliga.

    Manchester United brought him back to the Premier League in July 2021 in a £73m ($88m) deal with City receiving a further 15 per cent in sell-on fees that earned them an extra £11.2m ($13.5m).

  • Alvaro Negredo ValenciaGetty

    Alvaro Negredo | £23.7m | Valencia | 2014

    The Spanish striker’s time at the Etihad is curious in that he only had one season at City, the first half of which was incredible, and the second anonymous.

    Negredo scored 23 goals in his first 33 appearances but injured his shoulder in a League Cup semi-final second-leg victory over West Ham in January that he didn’t need to play in with City already leading 6-0.

    Over the next four months, he never scored again, although he ended the season with Premier League and League Cup winners’ medals.

    He became a cult hero with the nickname ‘The Beast’, but was quickly moved on to Valencia on loan with an obligation to buy the following summer.

  • Kelechi IheanachoGetty

    Kelechi Iheanacho | £25m | Leicester City | 2017

    City beat a host of top European clubs to the signing of the striker in 2014 after he had just won the Golden Ball for the best player at the Under-17 World Cup with Nigeria.

    Iheanacho broke into the first team under Manuel Pellegrini and became the youngest player to score a hat-trick for City in six decades when he struck three times in a 4-0 FA Cup win over Aston Villa.

    With an injury to Sergio Aguero, he started Pep Guardiola’s first Manchester derby and scored the winner in a 2-1 victory at Old Trafford.

    But, despite a decent strike record of 21 goals in 64 games, Iheanacho never managed to become a regular and left the club in 2017 for Leicester.

  • Danilo JuventusGetty

    Danilo | £33m | Juventus | 2019

    The Brazilian defender left City as part of a swap deal for Joao Cancelo, who joined in a deal worth £60m ($73m) and there’s no doubting who got the better part of the switch even if City paid an extra £27m ($33m), with the Portuguese now a crucial part of Guardiola’s side.

    Danilo had joined for £26.5m ($32m) from Real Madrid when Guardiola was desperate to replace his full-backs, with Kyle Walker and Benjamin Mendy joining in the same summer in big money moves.

    A serious injury to Mendy meant Danilo was often played out of position on the left and never looked entirely comfortable.

    He made just 40 starts in two years but despite making little impact, City walked away with a small profit.

  • Oleksandr Zinchenkoarsenal.com

    Oleksandr Zinchenko | £35m | Arsenal | 2023

    There were plenty of tears from team-mates, staff, fans and Zinchenko himself when he finally left for Arsenal in the summer.

    The Ukrainian was hugely popular, not least for the determined way he kept winning back his place in the starting line-up after City had tried to sell him previously – to Wolves and to Napoli for far less.

    Sign as a midfielder from Russian side FC Ufa for just £1.7m ($2m), he reinvented himself as a left-back to help in a position where the club were desperately short.

    He collected four Premier League winners’ medals and started a Champions League final before eventually leaving to work with former City coach Mikel Arteta, who is fully aware of his qualities.

  • Gabriel Jesus Arsenal

    Gabriel Jesus | £45m | Arsenal | 2023

    The forward only had a handful of appearances for Palmeiras when City paid £27m ($33m) for the 19-year-old in August 2016.

    After finishing the Brazilian domestic season, he arrived in January as a full international and made an instant impact, having a goal disallowed on his debut as a late sub, but then scoring eight goals in his next 11 appearances.

    His arrival pushed club legend Sergio Aguero on to greater heights but when the Argentinian left, Jesus didn’t quite have the quality to fill his shoes.

    He still scored 95 goals in 236 appearances before joining Arsenal, including crucial strikes home and away to Real Madrid in the Champions League and a last-minute winner that saw City claim a record 100 points across a single Premier League season.

  • Ferran Torres Barcelona Europa League 2021-22Getty

    Ferran Torres | £47m | Barcelona | 2021

    The Spanish winger only passed through the Etihad Stadium but left behind a significant cash profit even if his impact on the pitch was less impressive.

    Torres was bought for just £21m ($25m) from Valencia, who were struggling financially and needed to sell a player with just 12 months left on his contract.

    His potential was clear, but he found it difficult to force his way into a side under Guardiola, who had so many talented and more experienced options.

    Given Torres was scoring regularly for Spain, though, Barcelona were desperate to sign him and City received more than twice what they had paid for him 18 months earlier.

  • Raheem Sterling-chelsea-transfer(C)Getty Images

    Raheem Sterling | £47.5m | Chelsea | 2023

    City virtually reclaimed the full £49m ($59m) transfer fee they had paid to Liverpool for the England international seven years earlier, after a hugely successful period at the Etihad.

    There were plenty that thought it was a gamble when they bought Sterling as a 21-year-old but after 339 appearances, 131 goals and four Premier League titles, nobody would argue that it didn't work out.

    Sterling made 96 appearances in his last two seasons yet it felt he was becoming less relied upon and the forward was keen to make a fresh start elsewhere.

    Selling him could yet come back to bite City, but they recouped a significant fee as he entered the final year of his contract after talks over a new deal had broken down.

  • Leroy Sane FC Bayern Dynamo Kiev Champions League 29092021Getty Images

    Leroy Sane | £55m | Bayern Munich | 2020

    When the perennial Bundesliga champions showed an interest in the Germany international, Sane made it clear that he want to go home after three successful seasons in England.

    But with the two clubs haggling over a price, Sane suffered a serious knee injury in a Community Shield clash with Liverpool that was expected to be his last appearance for the club.

    A deal was put on hold until the following summer and with the winger entering the final 12 months of his contract, City had to take a lower price.

    Bayern looked like they had a bargain but his career has stuttered at the Allianz Arena and City still made a decent profit on a player they bought for £45m ($54m) from Schalke.