Man City cheat code: West Ham hijack has helped Guardiola make £234.9m by selling unused players

Matt Stead
Former Manchester City players Douglas Luiz and Jadon Sancho
Manchester City made £19.5m on Douglas Luiz and Jadon Sancho

Ajax stunned West Ham by hijacking their move for Carlos Borges as two more clubs fought over a Manchester City talent who never even played for the club.

The following players have all been sold by Manchester City since Pep Guardiola was appointed manager in summer 2016 for fees despite them never making a single competitive appearance for the club.


Carlos Borges (£12m, Ajax)
West Ham thought they had Borges wrapped up
 but the forward gave it a second thought and decided that Ajax might be a better option after a 2022/23 season which included 29 goals and 18 assists in 33 games for the U23s.


Adedire Mebude (£1.5m, Westerlo)
The Manchester City Academy Player’s Player of the Year for the 2021–22 season was linked with PSV, Spurs and Club Brugge in summer 2022 as talks over a contract renewal stalled, but the Scotland youth international has ended up in Belgium. Yes, there is a buy-back clause. Yes, there is a 30% sell-on clause.


James Trafford (£15m, Burnley)
The England hero
 could ultimately cost up to £19m, while Manchester City also retain a 20% sell-on clause and buy-back option thought to be worth triple what Burnley have paid.


Yangel Herrera (£4.3m, Girona)
Immediately sent on a two-year loan to New York City FC upon his Etihad arrival in January 2017, Herrera was then sent for seasoning at Huesca, Granada, Espanyol and Girona before setting up permanent camp at the fourth of his many Spanish clubs.


Juan Larios (£6m, Southampton)
The Spaniard got as close as a few Papa John’s Trophy appearances to breaking into the Manchester City first team. Which is to say he didn’t get close at all. But Southampton took a punt anyway.


Sam Edozie (£10m, Southampton)
Big test here: does the Community Shield count? Because Edozie was named in the starting line-up of the 2021 edition, being subbed after an hour of Leicester’s eventual historic win. Official ruling is glorified friendly, so the brother of Fandab is in.


Darko Gyabi (£5m, Leeds)
On the same day Manchester City signed Kalvin Phillips from Leeds, Darko Gyabi travelled in the opposite direction. In the least resounding of wins for the former, he played 593 minutes to the latter’s 157.


Gavin Bazunu (£12m, Southampton)
“All of them are fantastic players. Southampton bought really good players,” Guardiola said in summer 2022, duly thanking Saints for their financial service.


Pedro Porro (£7.6m, Sporting)
“No, I never spoke to Pep Guardiola. I don’t think he even knows they hired me,” Porro said in summer 2021. The £11m signing never played for Manchester City but did feature against them in the Champions League for Sporting, who signed him permanently after a successful loan before flipping that particular house and making a cool profit when Spurs came calling. And a signficiant sell-on clause meant £9m was sent City’s way too.


Ko Itakura (£4.2m, Borussia Monchengladbach)
A heads-up: get used to seeing the phrase ‘was immediately loaned out’ or variations thereof. Itakura was plucked from Kawasaki Frontale in 2019 and offloaded to Groningen and then Schalke for the next three years, only for Gladbach to snatch the defender away.


Diego Rosa (£2m, Bahia)
It was sister club Lommel who Rosa was stationed at straight after Manchester City took him from Brazil, where the midfielder returned after just two years to join another sister club in Bahia.


Marlos Moreno (£975,000, Troyes)
Once a phenomenal Colombian prospect, seven separate loan spells in five different countries weirdly stunted the development of a player who Txiki Begiristain reckoned had “a fantastic future in the game and with City” in 2016.


Ante Palaversa (£1.5m, Troyes)
Another palmed off elsewhere in the City Football Group, Palaversa soon went from potential Fernandinho successor to victim of the loan void.


Harvey Griffiths (£350,000, Wolves)
“Harvey’s a player our scouts have been monitoring and when it became apparent he could leave, we were quite surprised,” Wolves director Scott Sellars said of a teenager who had encountered that Etihad glass ceiling.


Ivan Ilic (£6.8m, Hellas Verona)
Remember when Manchester City signed Jack Grealish and Harry Kane? Of course you do. This sale made it possible.


Jack Harrison (£11m, Leeds)
An alumnus of the Liverpool and Man Utd academies, Harrison made the brave decision to move to the States and soon found himself posted at New York City FC. It is not difficult to join the dots from there, although a three-season taster loan with Leeds before joining permanently was a neat little play on the usual sister team shuffle.


Charlie McNeill (£750,000, Man Utd)
After starting out in the Man Utd academy, McNeill left for Manchester City aged 11 in 2014, then returned to Old Trafford six years later because he felt the first-team pathway was clearer.


Felix Correia (player exchange, Juventus)
It is quite funny that Manchester City and Juventus traded teenagers Correia and Pablo Moreno in the middle of the pandemic, valued both at £8.9m and secured 10% sell-on clauses, then saw both end up at Maritimo last season. Correia was sent there on loan by The Old Lady, while City accepted defeat and let striker Moreno go for free.


Thierry Ambrose (£2.1m, Metz)
A record of 23 goals in 48 games between Manchester City’s U18 and U23 levels was only ever enough for Ambrose to make one Premier League bench in December 2014.


Uriel Antuna (£8.2m, Chivas)
A rare example of the wider City Football Group playing no part in low-level upscaling, Antuna was signed from Santos Laguna, abandoned at Groningen and LA Galaxy and sold to Guadalajara, all in under three years.


Benjamin Garre (£2m, Racing Club)
“Guardiola called me when I arrived at Racing to wish me the best. I’ve learned a lot from Pep; he’s a top-class coach. I’m very grateful for everything he gave me,” said Garre, who was clearly impressed with the opportunity to train with the first team, play a few pre-season friendlies and feature in the Papa John’s.


Jeremie Frimpong (£1m, Celtic)
Between the ages of nine and 18, Frimpong was honed in the Manchester City academy. But actual first-team opportunities with Celtic and Bayer Leverkusen have seen his career launched properly.


Douglas Luiz (£12.5m, Aston Villa)
A buy-back clause of £25m was inserted in the summer 2019 sale of Luis but Manchester City never activated it and the Brazilian has gone on to be linked with most of the rest of an established elite Unai Emery is threatening to break up.

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Franck Ribery and Manchester City midfielder Douglas Luiz

Franck Ribery and Douglas Luiz in a pre-season friendly


Taylor Richards (£2.5m, Brighton)
It was, in the words of Richards himself, “an easy decision” to leave Manchester City and “push on”. “I didn’t think playing 23s was helping me, I feel like I was stuck, but all credit to Manchester City teaching me,” said a midfielder who has been passed around the Football League since. QPR, in case you were wondering.


Pablo Mari (£1.5m, Flamengo)
“I’d love to one day speak to him because he’s one of the greatest ever coaches,” said another whose association with Guardiola was only ever distant if indeed it existed at all. “And when I signed for City, I did so because I felt that one day, I could play for them.” Nope.


Rabbi Matondo (£11.3m, Schalke)
The winger headed to the Bundesliga in January 2019, which for a young British player impressing in a high-profile Premier League academy was the style at the time. Matondo did make his Wales debut while a Manchester City employee, but there were too many obstacles at club level.


Bobby Duncan (£200,000, Liverpool)
The capture of Steven Gerrard’s cousin was widely celebrated at Anfield before it all went terribly sour for Liverpool.


Angus Gunn (£13.5m, Southampton)
Despite being named on the bench in five Premier League games, two Champions League games and two League Cup games of Guardiola’s first season as manager, Gunn spent seven years on the Manchester City books without making a senior debut.


Rodney Kongolo (£750,000, Heerenveen)
Courted by Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City throughout 2013, Kongolo chose the third of those options early the following year and while he was voted Player’s Player for the EDS as U19s captain in May 2017, he never did break all the way through.


Jason Denayer (£8.9m, Lyon)
While Denayer did get a taste of the Premier League, it was with the very relegated Sunderland team of David Moyes and very specifically not Manchester City, who shipped him out four times before cashing in.


Olarenwaju Kayode (£2.7m, Shakhtar Donetsk)
Signed from Austria Wien. Immediately loaned out to Girona. Then sent to Shakhtar who bought him permanently and loaned him out to three other clubs themselves, thus robbing Manchester City of their greatest footballing joy out of sheer spite.


Olivier Ntcham (£4.5m, Celtic)
There were lazy Paul Pogba comparisons made with a player who left Le Havre for a Manchester-based club as a teenager before ending up in Serie A, but Ntcham used the platform of a two-season loan with Genoa to instead make the leap to Celtic and then Swansea.


Enes Unal (£12m, Villarreal)
Turkish striker Unal never did make the grade in England but has carved out a very successful niche for himself in La Liga.


Aaron Mooy (£10m, Huddersfield)
Six days after joining from Melbourne City, Mooy was sent on his way to a Huddersfield loan from which he never did return, so beloved was he by those plucky Terriers.


Ruben Sobrino (£1.7m, Alaves)
Immediately sent on loan to Girona, then Alaves tried before buying the forward.


Jadon Sancho (£10m, Borussia Dortmund)
Guardiola aired his public frustrations at camp Sancho at the end of a fairly ugly transfer saga which saw the teenager secure the move which would ignite his career. Shame he returned to Manchester in the end.


Geronimo Rulli (£5.9m, Real Sociedad)
It took six months to flip goalkeeper Rulli for a small profit after signing him for £4m in July 2016 and selling him for a little more the following January to Real Sociedad, who he had been immediately sent on loan to in the first place.


Florian Lejeune (£1.2m, Eibar)
Eventually ending up back in the Premier League with Newcastle, the previous English sojourn for Lejeune saw him immediately sent on loan to Girona and then sold to Eibar without anyone really noticing.


Seko Fofana (£2.5m, Udinese)
One of the newest Saudi recruits was at Manchester City for three years, which was obviously spent at Fulham and Bastia until Udinese stepped in.


Manchester City have sold numerous players who made very few appearances for them, including but certainly not limited to Lukas Nmecha (three games, £11m), Romeo Lavia (two games, £10.5m), Shea Charles (one game, £10.5m) and Rony Lopes (five games, £9m).