Pep Guardiola’s side have spent plenty over the years, with no one costing more than Sterling’s England teammate Jack Grealish. However, when it comes to getting value from the players they offload, things have been a little different.
Sterling is set to cost Chelsea up to £50million, depending on add-ons, despite only having a year left on his deal at the Etihad Stadium. Here, Mirror Football looks at the other players who have helped City bring in decent money.
After bursting onto the scene in City colours, Wright-Phillips was snapped up by big-spending Chelsea in 2005. He joined the Blues in a £21m deal and ended his first season with the club as a league champion.
There were some moments of quality under Jose Mourinho but his star fell after the Portuguese boss was dismissed. Indeed, Avram Grant left Wright-Phillips out of the squad for the 2008 Champions League final and he returned to City not long after.
The England international showed enough in his second spell to earn a spot in England’s squad for the 2010 World Cup but the arrival of David Silva and James Milner that same summer saw his opportunities limited. Spells at QPR and in the United States followed before he retired in 2019.
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When Iheanacho joined Leicester for £25m in 2017, it was a rare recent example of City generating a handsome profit on an academy talent. There was some surprise at the Manchester club allowing him to leave so easily after he’d made his debut as a teenager and scored 21 goals in 64 appearances, but the fee might have been too big to turn down.
“It gives me more confidence to play well, get back in the team and help them achieve great things in the future,” the Nigerian said after injuries hampered his start to life in the East Midlands. “As a footballer, you need to keep working hard through the bad times and the good times.”
Jamie Vardy’s longevity has seen Iheanacho struggle to hold down a regular starting spot but he showed his quality in the 2020-21 season with a career-best 19 goals in all competitions. He also scored a precious winner against his former club in the 2021 Community Shield, but he may feel there’s more to come.
Negredo’s spell at City was short but sweet. He played a big part in the 2013-14 title win but wasn’t the same after an injury sustained during that campaign and left for Valencia – initially on loan and then in a £25.2m permanent deal.
The Spanish international scored 23 times for City in all competitions but failed to match that tally in two seasons with Los Che. A year on loan at Middlesbrough offered another crack at English football – one which saw him hit double figures once more – but Boro’s relegation saw him become a nomad with stints in Turkey and the UAE before a return to Spain with Cadiz.
Now 36, he has scored 15 La Liga goals over the last two seasons in Spain, including some big strikes to help Cadiz keep their top-flight status by a single point last term. In March, he renewed his deal with Sergio Gonzalez’s team and will hope to make as big an impact in the year to come.
Danilo didn’t last too long at City, joining from Real Madrid in 2017 but losing out to Kyle Walker in the battle to start at right-back. He left for Juventus after two years, with Joao Cancelo moving in the opposite direction, and the fee for the Brazilian was reported as around £34m.
A Scudetto in his first Juve season meant he’d won four consecutive league titles in three countries. The Bianconeri have found things tougher over the last two seasons, though, while Juan Cuadrado has established himself as Massimiliano Allegri’s first-choice right-back.
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Danilo has continued to feature for Brazil in the meantime. He played in the Copa America final in 2021 – losing to Argentina – and also earned a call-up for the Selecao’s June friendlies, but didn’t feature against either South Korea or Japan.
City made a tidy profit on Brazil striker Gabriel Jesus when finally deciding to part ways with the 25-year-old. The Sao Paulo-born frontman cost £27m from Palmeiras in 2017, with Arsenal paying £45m this summer.
A return of 95 goals from 236 games is an impressive one, with 23 in the 2019-20 season representing his best return. However, he has wasted no time opening his Arsenal account, scoring twice on debut in a pre-season friendly.
Arsenal’s new number nine already has a target to meet. 15 goals in the league this term would be enough to overtake his high point in a City shirt and he’ll surely feel it’s something he’s capable of now that he’s the main man up front.
Torres’ Manchester City spell was short but sweet and represented a tidy return on investment. His £20.8m move from Valencia was followed by 16 goals, including one hat-trick against Newcastle, but fans barely had a chance to see him play.
A fast start in 2021-22 was curtailed by a broken foot, sustained on international duty with Spain. By the time he returned to full fitness he was a Barcelona player, completing a £49.5m move to Guardiola’s former club.
The 22-year-old found the net seven times in half a season under Xavi, including one in a 4-0 Clasico win away at Real Madrid. The coming season will be a big test, though, with Barca potentially adding even more competition for places in attack.
While Sterling’s arrival at Manchester City was a protracted one, it’s hard to say he hasn’t been worth the fuss. Since arriving from Liverpool in a deal worth more or less what they’re getting from Chelsea, he’s helped City win four Premier League titles – all since Guardiola took over.
He has also developed from a supporting forward into a reliable goalscorer. 131 goals represents an average of nearly 20 per season, with the high point coming in the form of 20 in the league and 31 overall in 2019-20.
Chelsea will be confident they’re getting a good addition to their attack, with Sterling still just 27 years old. However, it remains to be seen if he’ll be able to deliver as regularly under a different manager in Thomas Tuchel.
City’s record sale came back in 2020, though it might have arrived a year earlier. A serious knee injury ruled Sane out of almost the entire 2019-20 season but he still moved to Bayern Munich one year later in a deal worth up to £54m.
The German’s first season in Bavaria wasn’t the best, with former Bayern star Mehmet Scholl taking aim at him after the club’s Champions League defence fell short. However, he picked up last season under Julian Nagelsmann, scoring 14 goals in all competitions.
“The entire club management and [former Bayern president] Uli Hoeness contacted me with their absolute support,” Sane told Bild am Sonntag last season, in what some interpreted as a dig at his old employers. “To be given that kind of encouragement is not something to take for granted.”