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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 December 2018

The 10 most important Manchester City signings under Abu Dhabi ownership - in pictures

Scroll through the gallery above to see who makes the top 10

Since Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed's Abu Dhabi United Group acquired Manchester City on September 1, 2008 the investment in the squad has surpassed well over £1 billion (Dh4.72bn).

City signalled their intent to establish themselves among the European elite on the first day of the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs' reign, purchasing Robinho from Real Madrid and giving Premier League powerhouses Chelsea a bloody nose in the process.

Since then City have smashed transfer records for British players and defenders, with the results there for all to see: three Premier League titles, one FA Cup, three League Cups, regular qualification for the lucrative Uefa Champions League and a squad the envy of many.

Here John McAuley ranks the 10 most important City signings under the club's Abu Dhabi ownership.

Robinho (September 2008)

The original statement signing. The Abu Dhabi takeover was confirmed on the same day the club recruited the Brazilian forward from Real Madrid for £32.5 million (Dh153.7m). Initially considered one of the Spanish side’s new Galacticos, Robinho had been expected to join Chelsea. He scored on debut for City, then notched a hat-trick soon after. Eventually, he finished the campaign as City’s top scorer with 14 goals. Although injury and a subsequent loss of form expedited his departure - he left permanently to AC Milan in 2010 - Robinho’s arrival heralded City’s elevation to the top table of world transfers.

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Where are they now? A look back at the Manchester City team 10 years ago after Sheikh Mansour's takeover

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Gareth Barry (June 2009)

Perhaps not a marquee name, but a significantly astute acquisition. The Englishman had been Aston Villa’s captain prior to his £12m transfer to City, and slotted in seamlessly to his new side’s midfield having chosen the club instead of Liverpool. Barry was a mainstay of the early Abu Dhabi years, a combative player who protected the defence and marshalled the midfield. He was a constant in the first title victory in the 2011/12 season and his experience throughout his time helped the club transition to among the elite of English football. Left for Everton, initially on loan in 2013, having made 175 appearances.

Carlos Tevez (July 2009)

The billboard read “Welcome to Manchester”. Not only did it mark the Argentine’s sensational move from West Ham United for £25m, but it antagonised an increasingly perturbed Alex Ferguson and Manchester United. Tevez had spent the previous two seasons on loan at Old Trafford and became a firm favourite. A transfer to United’s “noisy neighbours” stung. He top-scored in his debut season at City, with 23 league goals, and was soon made captain. But from there a rocky relationship ensued: Tevez’s participation was punctuated by a number of high-profile fallouts. A member of City’s first Premier League title triumph, he signed for Juventus in 2013 following 74 goals in 148 appearances.

Yaya Toure (July 2010)

For a while, the Ivory Coast international represented arguably the finest midfielder to have graced the Premier League. The £24m recruit from Barcelona allied unparalleled power with precision, scoring the winner in both the 2011 FA Cup semi-final and final that halted City’s 35-year trophy drought. Toure was peerless during the title triumphs in 2011/12 and 2013/14, scoring twice in the penultimate match in 2012 to secure a crucial 2-0 win and then an incredible 24 goals in 2014. Although his input dwindled and he then clashed with the club, Toure left this summer having played 315 times. He scored 82 goals.

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On the market: Yaya Toure and football's other big name free agents

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David Silva (July 2010)

At the time Tevez called him “the best signing we have made” and, eight years later, few would argue. The Spaniard joined from Valencia for £26m and despite there being no doubt about his ability, some wondered if the diminutive midfielder could withstand the physicality of the Premier League. Silva has confounded those concerns. An integral component to the title-winning teams in 2011/12, 2013/14 and last season, the playmaker has contributed 49 goals and 75 assists in the league since his arrival. Composed, calculated and still key, Silva is expected to one day rank as City’s greatest ever player.

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David Silva grateful to Pep Guardiola and Manchester City for support during 'worst moment of my life'

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Edin Dzeko (January 2011)

Not always a mid-season acquisition proves a success, but the Bosnian had a telling impact on City following his winter move from Germany’s Wolfsburg. Dzeko became the club’s second-most expensive player once the £27m transfer was made, and during his time scored a number of incredibly important goals, including a 92nd-minute equaliser in the final game of the 2011/12 season that helped clinch a first Premier League title. Often derided, Dzeko was instrumental in the march to the 2013/14 crown, netting 16 times. Without his late-season boon, City wouldn’t have pipped Liverpool to the trophy. In all, Dzeko scored 50 goals in 130 league appearances before joining Roma, initially on loan, in 2015.

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Comment: Roma's Edin Dzeko dodged a bullet by not joining Chelsea

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Sergio Aguero (July 2011)

City’s all-time record goalscorer. The Argentine signed from Atletico Madrid for a reported £38m and has gone on to become one of the Premier League’s finest foreign recruits. Ensured his place in City folklore in his first season, scoring the goal against QPR in injury-time in the campaign’s final match that sealed that first Premier League title. Last year, Aguero’s strike against Napoli in the Uefa Champions League meant he became City’s record marksman with 178 goals. With 146 goals, he is the second-most prolific foreign player in Premier League history. This month, Alan Shearer, the league’s record scorer outright, labelled Aguero the best import to have graced the English top flight.

Fernandinho (June 2013)

City’s Mr Consistency. The Brazilian, a £34m signing from Ukraine’s Shakhtar Donetsk, has developed into a dependable and destructive presence in central midfield. One of the only players in the present squad who does not have an obvious deputy, Fernandinho’s absence, whether through injury or suspension, is usually keenly felt. Key to the two most recent title victories, the midfielder provides experience and an expert reading of the game. Also possesses a penchant for the spectacular goal. Pep Guardiola once said: “If a team has three Fernandinhos, they would be champions”. Has made 222 appearances for the club.

Kevin de Bruyne (August 2015)

The complete player and a Premier League standout. City paid a club-record fee for the Belgian, taking him from Wolfsburg for a reported £55m. In today’s market, that looks a bargain. De Bruyne is one of the world’s finest midfielders, marrying an eye for a defence-splitting pass and incredible goals with an almost unrivalled industry. In the recent All or Nothing documentary, Noel Gallagher, rock star and lifelong City fan, suggested De Bruyne should be handed man-of-the-match awards before games kick off. A true match-winner who orchestrates from a variety of positions, many believe he should have been Premier League Player of the Year last season. Phenomenal.

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No surgery but three months on the sidelines for Manchester City's De Bruyne

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Kyle Walker (July 2017)

Feeling full-backs where crucial to City’s future success, Guardiola went out and bought three in one transfer window. Walker arrived from rivals Tottenham Hotspur for a fee rising to £53m, simultaneously making him the most expensive defender in history and the most expensive Englishman of all time. Pivotal to how Guardiola’s record-breaking side would play, the England right-back was outstanding during his debut season, offering width, pace and an aptitude further infield when required. Walker was rightfully named the Premier League’s best in his position for the 2017/18 campaign. A respected voice in the changing room as well, he has helped transform the current side.

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