Player ratings for Manchester City’s Premier League title winners | Manchester City


Does he ever commit an error that costs points? The Brazilian has been beaten only 26 times, two fewer than last term. This is credit, too, to the rest of the rearguard and the attacking players: the 83 goals scored in 2020-21 has been eclipsed with 99. 9

Zack Steffen

The 27-year-old American can be proud that from his sole appearance he returned a clean sheet: a 2-0 win against Burnley at the Etihad Stadium in October. 7

Kyle Walker

To these eyes his best season in City colours. Walker is 32 on 28 May yet the familiar sight of the right-back’s afterburners propelling him to stymie a break has not dimmed. Control under pressure has become faultless from a player who is one of Pep Guardiola’s go-to warriors. 9

Kyle Walker in possession
Kyle Walker in possession. Photograph: Manchester City FC/Getty Images

Oleksandr Zinchenko

A clever footballer, as could be expected from a schemer turned left-back, Zinchenko lacks João Cancelo’s pacy all-round defence-and-attack game. What he offers is metronomic reliability and a teak-tough mentality: how the Ukrainian has performed so superbly during the harrowing invasion of his homeland by Russia is admirable. 9

João Cancelo

In a group studded with quality the Portuguese occupies the highest echelon. From full-back (mainly the left flank) Cancelo is a creative force with an eye for a pass and his geometric awareness of traffic and space is Toni Kroos-like. If Cancelo can be caught out via a quick counterattack this is a byproduct of City’s high line. 9

Aymeric Laporte

As with all City’s centre-backs Laporte lacks speed when having to turn. Yet if no footballer is perfect the defender can consider a close-to-perfect season after reclaiming the automatic-choice status lost last year. Lacking John Stones’s silkier move-building skills, Laporte offers simple, rugged defending. 9

Pep Guardiola during Sunday’s nerve-shredding 3-2 win over Aston Villa that sealed the title.
Pep Guardiola during Sunday’s nerve-shredding 3-2 win over Aston Villa that sealed the title. Photograph: Tom Flathers/Manchester City FC/Getty Images

John Stones

Injuries and Guardiola’s constant scrutinising of performance levels caused the England man to become a backup again after dislodging Laporte. Even Rúben Dias’s recent injuries have taken Stones to only 12 league starts (his lowest for the club) and the mystery is what Laporte did so right in last summer’s close season to move from defender non grata to again enjoying Guardiola’s supreme confidence. 7

Rúben Dias

The de facto captain who wore the armband in Fernandinho’s (near permanent) absence is admired by Guardiola for his professionalism. Dias can be cumbersome in control and occasionally shaky under high balls but he has, again, been as vital as in his debut season. 9


Cometh the hour, cometh the Fernandinho. City’s late-season slew of stricken defenders – Dias, Nathan Aké, Laporte, Walker – has cleared the way for a swansong from Guardiola’s favourite squad member, who departs in the summer after nine years and five titles. 7


The oil in a super-slick machine. The phrase “pass-and-go” might be tattooed on an arm of the Spaniard so astute is he at the occupation of the half-yard needed to receive and distribute the ball. In Guardiola’s ever-unpredictable game of team selection the 25-year-old is a constant after mystifyingly being dropped for last May’s Champions League final. 9

Riyad Mahrez

Only 15 league starts (plus 13 substitute appearances) seems low for a wide man Guardiola likes to trust for the bigger contests (Mahrez played in all 12 Champions League matches). From the Algerian who loves bamboozling defenders, gliding towards goal and unloading or teeing up a teammate, this makes his 11 league strikes even more impressive. 9

Riyad Mahrez scores the vital opener in April’s win over Brighton.
Riyad Mahrez scores the vital opener in April’s win over Brighton. Photograph: Magi Haroun/Shutterstock

Bernardo Silva

A diminutive magician whose perma-grin hides his ruthlessness with opponents and how easy the game is for him. Who at Villa Park in early December will forget the way Silva finished a symphonic back-to-front move with the purest of volleys that was a moment of art amid a frantic contest? 10

Kevin De Bruyne

The 2021-22 vintage has been, to this witness, the finest of De Bruyne as the imperious Belgian’s answer to serious injury and Covid at the beginning of the season was to become City’s headline act precisely when required: at the business end of the title defence. The 30-year-old has 15 goals – eight since March – in 25 starts. Factor in vision, laser-like passing, relentless work rate and an endearing nonchalance and this is a bona fide total footballer. City’s player of the season. 10

Phil Foden

Nine goals and five assists in 24 starts may feel under-par for a sparkling talent who is still only 21. But factor in how he can operate across attack and in midfield and how Guardiola often plumps for him as the false 9 and a richer understanding is allowed of a footballer whose ability to dazzle can suck the air from any onlooker. 8

Raheem Sterling

Has 13 goals to the 10 of last term when he lost his place for the campaign’s final phase. An undesired penchant for missing chances remains but Sterling can be a game-winner who this season has reverted to the driving-at-defenders forward of his earlier days at City. 8

Raheem Sterling scores a penalty against Leicester in December 2021
Raheem Sterling scores a penalty against Leicester in December. Photograph: Matt McNulty/Manchester City FC/Getty Images

Jack Grealish

Three goals is a paltry tally from a footballer whose shimmying, angled wing-play offers a different dimension. A truism runs that a player in his second season under Guardiola often improves because of a better understanding of the manager’s demands and team patterns. For the £100m British record signing, then, it is roll on 2022-23. 7

Ilkay Gündogan

Will Sunday’s hero still be at City next season? He has 12 months left on his terms and at 31 may depart for more match time. This year his numbers have dipped – 27 appearances, seven as a replacement, for eight goals, down from 13 strikes in 28 (five as a substitute) last term – yet Guardiola trusts Gündogan so will not wish to lose the German, who delivered dramatically on the final day to give City the title. 8

Gabriel Jesus

Eight goals from a player signed as a centre-forward is far too low and continues a pattern: in six seasons the Brazilian has managed double figures only twice, registering a high of 14 in 2019-20 and 13 two years before. The purchase of Erling Haaland and last summer’s pursuit of the equally prolific Harry Kane illuminates how Guardiola recognises Jesus can never be a 20-league-goals-a-season man. 7

Pep Guardiola with Gabriel Jesus after Manchester City’s 2-2 draw at West Ham
Pep Guardiola with Gabriel Jesus after City’s 2-2 draw at West Ham. Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian

Nathan Aké

A squad player who can operate across the defence and whose 14 appearances have been solid. 6

Cole Palmer

Four league appearances for an attacking midfielder suggests the 20-year-old may have a long-term future under Guardiola. 7

James McAtee

Two cameos – versus Everton in November and at Norwich in February. 6

Ferran Torres

Four league appearances and two goals before leaving for Barcelona in December. 7

Also played

One appearance each for Liam Delap, Conrad Egan-Riley, Kayky and Benjamin Mendy.

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