A lot of players can go under the radar at Manchester City. Simply put, Pep Guardiola’s system isn’t designed for individual standouts. It is designed for every player to play their role to perfection, both on and off the ball. And this naturally leads to a number of underrated, yet important figures emerging.
Such is the genius of Guardiola, some may believe that the former Bayern Munich manager could hand pick a number of players for each role in his starting 11. But, this isn’t the case; certain players deserve credit for the job they do; jobs that not many others could take on with such success.
With that said, we’ve ranked Manchester City’s most underrated player of the Premier League era.
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10) Oleksandr Zinchenko
Oleksandr Zinchenko is one of the biggest victims of Manchester City’s constant spending on improvement. The left-back has always performed well in his role, but has still seen that same role taken by other players as soon as they walk through the door.
As a result, he left for Arsenal in the summer, and they’re now top of the Premier League table; coincidence? We think not.
Indeed, Zinchenko never made more than 20 appearances in one Premier League season during his time at City.
That feels like a ridiculous stat when you think about it, but it just shows the riches City have at their disposal.
9) Samir Nasri
An increasingly controversial character as his career went on, Samir Nasri often went under the radar at Manchester City.
The silky Frenchman played an important role in City’s first ever Premier League title win in 2012, recording 14 goal involvements in the league.
Nasri totalled 176 appearances for City during his time at the club and one has to say that the club had the best version of him.
After leaving, Nasri endured a nomadic period, playing in Turkey, as well as featuring for West Ham and Anderlecht.
He’s not remembered as he should be.
8) Mario Balotelli
Speaking of controversial, not many have a bigger track record of that exact trait than Mario Balotelli. And that’s perhaps why his time at Manchester City went under the radar.
Whether he was putting the ball in on the goal-line with his shoulder, or scoring against Manchester United and unveiling the famous ‘why always me’ shirt, the Italian was superb at times. To this day, he remains the only Italian to win the Premier League title.
Balotelli may have seen his legacy somewhat dimmed by the fact that he never recaptured the City form anywhere else.
But he’s one of the most mercurial players we’ve ever seen at City.
7) Pablo Zabaleta
Pablo Zabaleta was unfortunate enough to feature in an era when full-backs were not quite as appreciated as they are today.
The Argentine right-back was as good going forward as he was defensively, and was a huge part of Manchester City’s Premier League title wins in 2011/12 and 2013/14.
He made over 300 appearances, and often wore the captain’s armband.
He left City with two Premier League titles under his belt, as well as two League Cups and one FA Cup.
6) Edin Dzeko
When it comes to underrated forwards in Premier League history, Edin Dzeko is right near the top.
He was a key part of City’s title-winning sides in 2011/12 and 2013/14, and, by the time he left city, he had scored an impressive 72 goals in 189 appearances.
Many seem to forget, too, that it was his goal that put City level with Queens Park Rangers on the final day of the 11/12 season.
It took a long time for City to find another striker who was as selfless and brilliant as the Bosnia and Herzegovina international.
5) Ilkay Gundogan
The Ilkay Gundogan fan club may have increased in numbers recently, but he still goes far too much under the radar for our liking.
The final day of last season epitomised the German as a player, with his brace helping to overturn a 2-0 deficit against Aston Villa to win the game 3-2 and seal the Premier League title.
Where there is an important moment, there seems to be a Gundogan goal.
He’s played over 280 times for the club and if he does leave soon enough, he will be sorely missed.
4) Aleksandar Kolarov
Like Zabaleta, Aleksandar Kolarov was unlucky to enjoy his best years in an era outside of the full-back popularity that we so often see today.
That does not take away just how good he was, however, with his rocket of a left foot making the difference on more than one occasion at The Etihad, clocking up 247 appearances.
He was a regular during the time that City were becoming a truly immense force in English football.
Defensively brilliant and an attacking threat too, Kolarov was a truly world-class left-back.
3) Raheem Sterling
A player with 131 goals and 95 assists shouldn’t be able to warrant a place on this list. But, the fact is, Raheem Sterling is nowhere near appreciated enough at Manchester City and in the Premier League as a whole.
In total, he won four Premier League titles at the Etihad Stadium, along with five League Cups and one FA Cup.
He has left an immense hole in the City squad after moving to Chelsea, and it remains to be seen if the club can find a way to properly replace him.
Their form this season suggests they are struggling to do so.
2) Joe Hart
The arrival and subsequent performances of Ederson can make people forget about just how good Joe Hart was at Manchester City.
Of course, he didn’t suit the change of style under Pep Guardiola, but, prior to that, he was head and shoulders (pun fully intended) above many Premier League shot-stoppers. He remains a key figure in City’s recent history.
One of the best goalkeepers in Europe at his peak, Hart was also England’s No.1 at a variety of major tournaments.
At his best, there were few better in the world.
Fernandinho was always going to have his place on this list.
He is one of the most underrated players in Premier League history. And, in a way, that’s exactly what you want from your defensive midfielder. If they’re in the spotlight then, chances are, they’ve made a mistake.
Fernandinho has successfully been the foundation of City’s success over the years, whilst rarely being exposed on the main stage.
He made 383 appearances in total, playing a key role in every season from 2013/14 right up until last season.
With the way that Pep Guardiola sets up his side, it would come as no surprise if more players went under the radar in the next few years. As a collective, Manchester City are the best team in the Premier League, and arguably the world. Meanwhile, if you shoved the majority of their players into the spotlight and forced them to play in a system which requires individual carrying jobs, they’d fit straight in.
It speaks volumes of the trust that the players have in Guardiola, that they have remained so disciplined over the years and stuck to their roles, whether that be in or out of the spotlight.