In our Transfers that shook the club feature, Football Transfer Tavern takes a look at deals that had many may not have seen coming and the impact that they had during their time by using statistical data and pundit remarks.
For a long time, the summer of 2008 didn’t seem an especially exciting one for Manchester City supporters. The previous season ended with an 8-1 humbling by Middlesbrough as their crosstown rivals United claimed a Premier League and Champions League double. By the third week of August, their only summer signings had been Jo and Tal Ben Haim, until another defender arrived in the form of a young Belgian named Vincent Kompany.
Then 22, he arrived only a few days before the course of the club’s history changed as the Abu Dhabi United Group bought out the club and set in motion more than a decade of enormous investment.
Kompany, a £7.65m signing (as per TransferMarkt) from Hamburg, certainly hadn’t come to Manchester City for the glory – in his first season, they were knocked out of the UEFA Cup by his former club and finished a lowly 10th in the Premier League. Indeed, there was no indication that he would become a centre-back lynchpin at the Etihad Stadium as he started out life in Manchester as a defensive midfielder.
He impressed sufficiently in his first three years at the club to be named as captain in 2011, the year in which they achieved a first Champions League qualification. Having joined a mid-table outfit, the Belgian would see a very different side to Manchester City in 2011/12. His three Premier League goals that season included a decisive header against neighbours United as the Manchester duo vied for the title, with City eventually winning it at the death on the final day of the season to pip their rivals on goal difference. It was Kompany who would have the honour of holding the trophy aloft as the club celebrated their first league title since 1968.
There were two more trophies for him to lift in 2014 as City regained their Premier League crown and also won the League Cup. On the final day of the league season, with Manuel Pellegrini’s team still needing a result to ensure they would be champions, Kompany netted in the 2-0 win over West Ham. Not for the first time, their captain came good with a goal in a crucial fixture.
Unfortunately for the Belgian, the mid-2010s would be rife with frustration as numerous injuries plagued the defender. Calf problems decimated his 2015/16 season and a knee injury affected him the following campaign, with Kompany restricted to just 25 Premier League appearances across those two seasons.
Pep Guardiola even called him out on his unenviable injury record in 2017 but the Spaniard’s second season in charge would be redemptive for both Kompany and Manchester City. In a team which won the Premier League with a record points total of 100, the centre-back turned in a man of the match display in the Carabao Cup final, scoring in the 3-0 thrashing of Arsenal. Yet again he had made his presence felt on a big occasion in a City shirt.
Having reached the 10-year mark at the Etihad in 2018, some very familar themes emerged from the Belgian’s 11th season at the club. Again it ended with him lifting the Premier League trophy, his fourth time doing so as Manchester City captain, and again he came up with a pivotal goal in a closely-fought title race. So stunning and important was his long-range screamer against Leicester in a 1-0 home win in the final week of the season that Sky Sports co-commentator Gary Neville exclaimed: “Where do you want your statue, Vincent Kompany?”
A year ago last Monday, the 34-year-old helped City to complete a domestic treble as they humbled Watford 6-0 in the FA Cup final. The following day, the club confirmed that Kompany was leaving on the highest of highs, capping an illustrious Etihad career by winning his 12th trophy in his time in Manchester.
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The tributes quickly poured in for the defender, with Premier League all-time scorer Alan Shearer tweeting “What a captain and player”, Franny Lee CBE describing him as “a captain, a leader, a legend, a true gent and a great great player” and legendary England marksman Gary Lineker calling him “one of the greatest players, leaders and role models to have played on the green carpets of this country” – not to mention the emotional eulogies from many of his Manchester City team-mates. [via mancity.com]
With 20 goals in 360 games for the club, several of those impeccably timed, it took only four months after Neville’s aforementioned commentary for City to commission a statue of Kompany to be placed outside the Etihad Stadium. The Belgian came to the club in lean times and left it having done more than his fair share to make Manchester City a dominant force in English football – not a bad way to pay back the £7.65m spent on him 12 years ago.
Man City fans, was Kompany the greatest signing in the club’s history? Comment below with your views!
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