Over the last decade some luxurious imports have arrived in Manchester.
When Man City became a financial powerhouse and began to compete with their historically successful neighbours, spending on both sides exploded.
12 of the 50 most expensive transfers of all time have been funded by the Manchester clubs.
Here we match up each club’s five most costly signings in an attempt to find out who has spent their money the wisest when it comes to the box office transfers.
Remember, we’re talking about approximately £485million worth of talent…
5 – Dimitar Berbatov vs Sergio Aguero
Berbatov’s (£30.75m) first touch was a gift from the football gods. The lethargic Bulgarian rarely broke sweat but delighted fans with his immense control and penchant for the spectacular.
Berba was capable of things no other target man of his time would even dare of dreaming about. In 2010/11 he shared the Golden Boot with Carlos Tevez after bagging 20 goals in the Premier League.
His signing remains one of the most controversial and memorable of the modern era. Spurs initially accused United of ‘illegally’ approaching Berbatov and the deadline day deal was nearly hijacked by a bid from Man City.
For all Berbatov’s style it’s hard to compete with Aguero’s (£38m) record. The Argentine forward has scored 169 goals in 253 appearances for City since his arrival from Atletico Madrid in 2011.
Only once in six seasons has he failed to score at least 28 goals in all competitions. In the sky blue of City, he has established himself as one of the most clinical and consistent finishers in the world.
WINNER – AGUERO (1-0 City)
4 – Anthony Martial vs Bernardo Silva
Given that Bernardo (£43m) is yet to play a single micro-second for City it’s probably a bit early to judge whether or not he was worth the money. Although if the Portuguese playmaker’s title-winning displays for Monaco are anything to go off then the Etihad faithful may embrace a new favourite come autumn.
As for Tony Martial (£36m), his second season at Old Trafford was significantly more subdued than his first, although he did add three trophies to his cabinet this campaign.
The Frenchman is still just 21 and is likely to improve further under Jose Mourinho’s guidance.
NO WINNER… ASK US IN A FEW MONTHS (1-0 City)
3 – Juan Mata vs John Stones
Mata (£37m) may be one of the most underrated midfield creators in Premier League history. He’s seldom mentioned in discussion of the league’s best and often forced into a secondary role but he never disappoints and often saves his best performances for the big games.
The fact that Pep Guardiola is keen on signing another high-profile centre-back just a season after recruiting Stones (£47.5m) says a lot about the young defender’s first season in Manchester.
A comfortable ball-player and fine reader of the game, his natural talent gave way to some rookie mistakes in the first half of the season. His price tag demands better.
WINNER – MATA (1-1)
2 – Angel Di Maria vs Raheem Sterling
The curse of Man United’s No7 shirt post-Ronaldo preyed upon Di Maria (£59.7m) more than any of its other victims. He offered a few glimpses of his undeniable ability but ultimately he became a luxury player, one that an underwhelming United side could not afford.
Rewind a year and you could have said a similar thing about Sterling (£49m) but the former Liverpool winger has been revitalised under Guardiola. Arguably City’s best player of the first three months of the season he provided over 20 assists in all competitions and reached double figures for goals for his fourth consecutive season.
WINNER – STERLING (2-1 City)
1 – Paul Pogba vs Kevin De Bruyne
Living up the highest transfer fee in history is a thankless task. Fortunately Pogba (£89m) has the personality and character to play his game free from burden.
The French midfielder received mixed reviews upon his return to United but there’s no denying he was instrumental in the EFL Cup and Europa League triumphs. His self-confidence will serve him well next season, which is when a proper judgement can be made.
We could watch De Bruyne (£55m) play for hours on end. The strawberry-blonde Belgian is best player in wide positions in the Premier League and his 18 league assists this season is evidence of his ability to pick the killer ball in the final third.
We actually think this contest may become closer as the years progress but right now, given the £34m difference in price tag, we’re going to have to give it to De Bruyne.
WINNER – DE BRUYNE (3-1 City)
There you have it, a win for blue over red.
But don’t think we haven’t forgotten about the £32m you spent on Mangala…