Ranking the 30 Biggest Transfers of the Abramovich/Mansour Era

Garry HayesFeatured ColumnistFebruary 2, 2014

Ranking the 30 Biggest Transfers of the Abramovich/Mansour Era

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    Sheikh Mansour (left) and Roman Abramovich
    Sheikh Mansour (left) and Roman AbramovichGetty Images

    It's Money Night Football this weekend in the Premier League.

    See what we did there?

    Manchester City will entertain Chelsea at Etihad Stadium in their top-of-the-table clash on Monday. It brings together two of the most expensively assembled teams in English football, with the winner taking a considerable step toward reclaiming the Premier League trophy.

    Now that the winter transfer window has closed, it got us thinking: With all the money these two clubs have splashed out since Sheikh Mansour completed his takeover at City in the summer of 2008, who has got the best value?

    In total, Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich and Mansour have spent over £1 billion on transfer fees alone, bringing in 88 players in that time (City have signed 49, Chelsea 39).

    So, breaking these transfers down into the 30 most expensive, Bleacher Report has ranked the top signings made by both clubs during the Abramovich-Mansour era.


30. Nemanja Matic (£21 Million), Chelsea

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    Lefteris Pitarakis/Associated Press

    It's a little unfair to Nemanja Matic that he's at the bottom of our list, especially as he has not long returned to Chelsea.

    However, the Blues sold the Serbian to Benfica for just £3 million in January 2011, bringing him back to London for an £18 million deficit.

    Add to that the fact he was initially signed from Slovakian side Kosice for a mere £1.5 million in 2009 and it outlines the folly of Chelsea's transfer dealings.

    He has made two appearances since returning to Stamford Bridge, and we're sure, with more time, he'll be rising up the list. For now, though, he has to settle for 30th.

29. Roque Santa Cruz (£17 Million), Manchester City

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    Michael Regan/Getty Images

    Signed from Blackburn Rovers for £17 million in 2009-10, it seemed Manchester City were getting good value for the Paraguayan international given his scoring record at Ewood Park.

    Mark Hughes, the manager who signed him, was sacked not soon after, though, and with new man Roberto Mancini not too keen on Santa Cruz, he spent much of his time on the bench or injured.

    In total, he played just 20 Premier League games for City during his four years at the Etihad, scoring three goals.

28. Yuri Zhirkov (£18 Million), Chelsea

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    Tom Hevezi/Associated Press

    It's going to take someone special to replace, or at least challenge, Ashley Cole for his left-back spot at Chelsea.

    For £18 million, the Blues thought they'd found that man in Yuri Zhirkov. The move proved on the contrary.

    The Russian arrived from CSKA Moscow in 2009 and struggled to settle, never showing a repeat of the form that had persuaded Chelsea to spend big on him.

    He left for Anzhi Makhachkala in 2011, with the Blues remarkably recouping a large chunk of his transfer fee.

27. Jose Bosingwa (£16.2 Million), Chelsea

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    Martin Meissner/Associated Press

    Another flop at full-back, don't let the fact Jose Bosingwa was part of Chelsea's title-winning team of 2010 or that he featured in their victorious 2012 Champions League Final fool you.

    Things may have started brightly when Bosingwa arrived from Porto in 2008, but he was soon found out in the Premier League, as he was often exposed and was a major weakness in the Blues defence.

    The fact he departed for QPR in 2012 and struggled to get a regular starting place in the Hoops side, a team that was relegated that season, says it all about Bosingwa.

26. Robinho (£32.5 Million), Manchester City

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    PAUL THOMAS/Associated Press

    Once ranked among the world's best footballers, Robinho's August deadline-day arrival at Etihad Stadium was supposed to be the coup of the century for Manchester City.

    City had pipped Chelsea and a host of other clubs to his signature, but as time wore on, it soon became clear it was their rivals who had got the best deal in not paying Real Madrid £32.5 million for his services.

    Robinho displayed his brilliance only rarely in a City shirt and from being a hero in 2008, by 2010 he was being offloaded to AC Milan for just £15 million.

25. Stevan Jovetic (£22 Million), Manchester City

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    JON SUPER/Associated Press

    "Who the f*****g hell are you?" Manchester City fans recently sang, very much tongue in cheek, when Stevan Jovetic appeared from the bench against West Ham United in the second leg of their Capital One Cup semi-final.

    It was Jovetic's first appearance since late October, and as City fans eluded to, he was a forgotten man at the Etihad.

    To be fair to the Montenegrin striker, it has been injuries that have curtailed his progress since joining for £22 million from Fiorentina in the summer.

    Back fit again, he recently scored in the 5-1 thrashing of Tottenham Hotspur, so City fans will be hoping he's turned the corner.

24. Emmanuel Adebayor (£25 Million), Manchester City

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    Themba Hadebe/Associated Press

    Emmanuel Adebayor is a divisive character. Wherever he has played, the Togo striker has split opinion, and it was no different at Manchester City.

    When he's on form, he can be a deadly presence, as Tottenham Hotspur are experiencing right now. When he isn't, however, he carries baggage that many deem unsuitable and aren't willing to accept.

    Unfortunately, it was the latter during his three years with City, and all were relieved when he eventually departed for Spurs in 2012 having spent a season on loan in North London.

23. Javi Garcia (£15.8 Million), Manchester City

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    Clint Hughes/Associated Press

    Signed from Benfica in 2012, Javi Garcia was supposed to help in shoring up the Manchester City midfield.

    His form has been anything but what was expected, however, and he has largely been on the periphery.

    The Spaniard is certainly one to put in the Luxury Buy category.

22. Fernando Torres (£50 Million), Chelsea

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    Scott Heppell/Associated Press

    His endeavor has meant Fernando Torres remains a favorite at Stamford Bridge, although Chelsea didn't sign the Spaniard for £50 million to simply work hard—the Blues wanted a repeat of the goalscoring form at Liverpool that made him one of the world's most feared front men.

    It hasn't quite happened for him in the three years he has spent in West London, though, with Torres struggling for goals.

    He has shown signs of returning to his best, but often Lady Luck strikes him down with injuries or suspensions.

    He has been a good acquisition, but for £50 million, much more was expected.

21. Andre Schurrle (£18 Million), Chelsea

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    Kirsty Wigglesworth/Associated Press

    If we're talking value for money, £18 million for Andre Schurrle represents good business for Chelsea.

    Given the form of others in front of him, the German has had his opportunities somewhat limited in his debut campaign as a Chelsea player.

    Whenever he has appeared, though, Schurrle has shown enough to suggest he is going to be a vital player in years to come for the Blues.

20. Joleon Lescott (£22 Million), Manchester City

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    Jon Super/Associated Press

    Some players find the burden of a transfer fee can be too much to handle, and it seems that could be the case for Joleon Lescott at Manchester City.

    During his three years at Everton, the 31-year-old was rightly regarded as one of England's leading defenders. Then came his move to City in 2009 and his form and reputation have taken a considerable beating.

    Whether it be the heightened sense of expectation or simply the £22 million fee City paid for him, Lescott hasn't fully got to grips with life at City.

19. James Milner (£26 Million), Manchester City

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    Jon Super/Associated Press

    It's not because James Milner hasn't impressed for Manchester City during his three years at Etihad Stadium that we've ranked him so low. It's more that, for £26 million, we expected more.

    Similar to Nemanja Matic (ranked 30th) before him, it's not Milner's concern how much a club wants to pay for his services. But when value for money is taken into consideration, his more workman-like attributes do not reflect his fee.

    A reliable player, managers know what Milner will give them. He isn't going to consistently produce majestic moments to win matches, though.

18. Fernandinho (£30 Million), Manchester City

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    Jon Super/Associated Press

    A summer arrival from Shakhtar Donetsk, Fernandinho has finally got the big move he has been yearning for throughout his career.

    The 28-year-old Brazilian has been impressive for the opening months of his Manchester City career, and we can expect more to come from him.

17. Willian (£30 Million), Chelsea

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    Scott Heppell/Associated Press

    From appearing a signing to merely frustrate rivals Tottenham Hotspur—who were all set to complete his £30 million transfer from Anzhi Makhachkala, only for Chelsea to pip them to the post—Willian is becoming a vital member of the Chelsea team.

    His development has meant the Blues could cash in on Juan Mata for £37.1 million this month, too.

    The Brazilian is looking stronger with each performance, and at 25 years old, he has his best years ahead of him.

16. Romelu Lukaku (£18 Million), Chelsea

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    Lefteris Pitarakis/Associated Press

    Romelu Lukaku's reputation continues to grow, but it is loan spells away from Stamford Bridge that have aided this.

    In contrast, his performances for Chelsea have been unconvincing, and until he can consistently perform well for the Blues, he has a lot to prove that his £18 million transfer fee was money well spent.

15. Nigel de Jong (£18 Million), Manchester City

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    CLINT HUGHES/Associated Press

    It's only since leaving for AC Milan in 2012 that Manchester City fans may have appreciated what Nigel de Jong brought to the club's midfield.

    Not exactly easy on the eye in the way we expect most Dutch players to be, de Jong was a physical presence in the City midfield and played a big part in bringing the Premier League trophy to the Etihad in 2011-12.

    Without him in the line-up last term, City struggled at times, eventually losing out on the title to rivals Manchester United.

14. Kolo Toure (£16 Million), Manchester City

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    Clint Hughes/Associated Press

    His impact may not have been as significant as his brother Yaya's, but Kolo Toure was still a key player for Manchester City throughout his four years with the club.

    Signing for £16 million from Arsenal, he helped the squad to become Premier League champions in 2012, and had it not been for his aging years, he would probably still be a member of Manuel Pellegrini's team now.

    He joined Liverpool in 2013.

13. Samir Nasri (£24 Million), Manchester City

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    Scott Heppell/Associated Press

    Another Manchester City recruit from Arsenal to make our list, Samir Nasri has been a good acquisition.

    That said, there have been times when he has failed to live up to his billing as a world-class talent, losing form or simply appearing unconcerned with the plight of his team.

    A case in point came last season when, rather than taking a blow to the body, he ducked Robin van Persie's 90th-minute free-kick, which saw the Manchester United striker's effort hit the back of the net and give the Red Devils a priceless three points at the Etihad.

    It's disappointing moments such as that that take away from the many positives Nasri has brought to City.

12. Mario Balotelli (£24 Million), Manchester City

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    JON SUPER/Associated Press

    Seemingly more interested in himself than his teammates or club, Mario Balotelli is another Manchester City star who could have achieved so much more had it not been for his character flaws.

    Blessed with footballing brilliance, the Italian spent more time making headlines for his exploits away from the pitch than he did for the goals he scored for City on it.

    It's a crying shame, as Balotelli was majestic at times during his two-and-a-half-year spell at the Etihad.

    Instead, he is remembered more for incidents with fireworks and T-shirts goading the media, as per our image above.

11. Edin Dzeko (£27 Million), Manchester City

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    Matt Dunham/Associated Press

    Sitting just outside our top 10, Edin Dzeko misses out merely because it's this season where he has only really started to kick-start his Manchester City career.

    He showed glimpses of it last term, appearing from the bench top score vital goals, but with 19 goals to his name this season, he seems to have finally arrived.

    The 2013-14 campaign has been his best since joining from Wolfsburg for £27 million in January 2011. He was much sought after back then, and Dzeko is beginning to show us just why.

10. Alvaro Negredo (£20 Million), Manchester City

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    Jon Super/Associated Press

    The Spaniard already has 23 goals to his name in a Manchester City shirt, meaning his net cost is less than £1 million per goal since he signed from Sevilla in the summer.

    That is an impressive statistic, and in time, it's only going to get better as Alvaro Negredo is a fine striker, scoring goals from all over the pitch.

    He could very well turn out to be a bargain.

9. David Luiz (£21 Million), Chelsea

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    Sang Tan/Associated Press

    Among Chelsea's finest players, we often forget the impact that David Luiz made his first six months at Chelsea.

    Along with the capture of Fernando Torres, he helped lift the club at a difficult time, scoring vital goals against the likes of Manchester United.

    Chelsea may not have won the Premier League in 2010-11, but Luiz was vital in injecting some impetus into the campaign and has since gone on to become a cult hero at Stamford Bridge.

    He has won the Champions League, FA Cup and Europa League during his three years at Chelsea.

8. Carlos Tevez (£47 Million), Manchester City

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    Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

    Had it not been for his petulance, going AWOL from Manchester City as he looked to force through a transfer in 2012, Carlos Tevez would rank higher in this list.

    He was the scorer of vital goals for the club, with his form and presence helping City attract a number of other talented players.

    His transfer from Manchester United in 2009 was a considerable coup, also, as it officially confirmed the arrival of the Etihad Stadium club as a challenger for major honors, especially to their city rivals.

7. Ramires (£20 Million), Chelsea

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    Scott Heppell/Associated Press

    It took the Brazilian a season to settle after joining from Benfica in 2010, but now Chelsea's midfield is a weaker proposition without him featuring.

    His tireless displays have become the benchmark on which the club has looked to rebuild its status in recent years, with Ramires a key part of it.

    He may not be as prolific as Frank Lampard when it comes to his goals scored, yet Ramires continues that box-to-box tradition just as effectively.

    He is vital at Stamford Bridge.

6. Oscar (£25 Milllion), Chelsea

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    Sang Tan/Associated Press

    The face of the new Chelsea, Oscar is the man Jose Mourinho is building his team around, and the Blues are looking in good shape as a result.

    Still only 22 years old, the Brazilian is maturing into a fine talent, and this season he has continued his progress, proving effective as a No. 10 and being the source for much of what Chelsea produce.

    It may have seemed steep at the time, but his £25 million fee looks a wise investment with every performance.

5. Eden Hazard (£32 Million), Chelsea

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    Scott Heppell/Associated Press

    Like Oscar, Eden Hazard is giving Chelsea fans plenty to shout about right now, but we haven't seen the best of him yet. And that's saying something.

    The Belgian has been majestic at times this season, a match winner and a player who always makes things happen.

    Hazard is maturing the way Mourinho had hoped, and in time, with Oscar alongside him in the Blues' three-pronged attacking midfield, Chelsea are going to be the envy of Europe.

    It says something that the form of Hazard and Oscar has meant the reaction to Juan Mata's sale to Manchester United has been somewhat low key.

4. Juan Mata (£23.5 Million), Chelsea

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    Lefteris Pitarakis/Associated Press

    Scoring on his Chelsea debut against Norwich City in September 2011, Mata was an instant hero at Stamford Bridge.

    He did a whole lot more before he joined Manchester United this January, though, notably winning the Champions League, FA Cup and Europa League.

    The Spaniard was a player of significant beauty, and although Chelsea made around a £14 million profit in selling him to United, there is a considerable void left in West London right now.

    Chelsea have other players to fill it, but the impact of his sale will be felt in the emotions of Chelsea fans for some time.

3. David Silva (£26 Million), Manchester City

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    Jon Super/Associated Press

    When David Silva is on form, Manchester City are on form.

    The Spaniard has been an incredible signing from Valencia in 2010, and it's no coincidence that, come the end of his second season at Etihad Stadium, City were being crowned champions.

    He spent a significant period out of the team last term due to injury and a loss of form. City suffered as a result, but now that he's back in the line-up, the team looks much stronger with him.

    He's no doubt among the best signings made by the Mansour regime.

2. Yaya Toure (£24 Million), Manchester City

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    Scott Heppell/Associated Press

    If Yaya Toure isn't the world's best midfielder right now, can anyone show us a better player?

    The Ivorian is a juggernaut of a man, but he is much more than his 6'3" frame. Toure brings an element of creativity to the City midfield but also uses his physicality to good effect, with his driving runs at the heart of the opposition defence often causing mayhem.

    He scores great goals and important goals and is effective at helping prevent them at the other end.

    Put simply, £24 million—what were Barcelona thinking?

1. Sergio Aguero (£38 Million), Manchester City

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    Alex Livesey/Getty Images


    That was the commentator's reaction when Sergio Aguero scored the vital, last-ditch goal that won Manchester City the Premier League title in 2012.

    If there was going to be a player on the pitch to do it, few would have bet against Aguero as being him.

    He is a phenomenal talent, and for that vital goal alone he ranks as City's best investment under the ownership of Sheikh Mansour.

    He is the player who just keeps on giving, though, with injuries this term failing to prevent him from hitting 26 goals in all competitions.

    The stats are remarkable. Of the 25 games he has played, he hasn't scored in a mere six.

    If City reclaim the Premier League this year, it will largely be down to this man.