Where are they now? Pep Guardiola’s most expensive signing from every season of his career


No manager in the history of football has spent as much on transfers as Pep Guardiola across his time in charge of Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Manchester City.

But the Catalan tactician has a pretty good strike rate when it comes to star signings, with the vast majority proving to be worth the gigantic transfer fees invested.

We’ve gone back and looked through the most expensive signing from every season of Guardiola’s managerial career, going back to Barcelona in 2008, and checked in on where they all are today.

2008-09: Dani Alves

Guardiola’s first marquee signing at Barcelona had a transformative effect, immediately striking up a brilliant partnership with Messi and playing a key role in the treble triumph of 2008-09 and much more silverware thereafter.

Alves would later become the most decorated footballer in history, and returned to Barcelona for a second stint after spells with Juventus and PSG.

But a recent conviction for rape has cast a shadow over anything he achieved on the football pitch. The Brazilian was sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison but has been released after paying €1million in bail.

There have been media suggestions that former team-mates such as Neymar contributed funds for his release, but they’re as yet unsubstantiated.

2009-10: Zlatan Ibrahimovic

“You bought a Ferrari, but you drive it like a Fiat,” was Ibrahimovic’s assessment of his one year under Guardiola.

Barcelona spent a hefty fee for Ibrahimovic and sent Samuel Eto’o in the opposite direction to Inter. The Cameroonian ended up winning a second successive treble at the San Siro, while Ibra struggled to fit in Guardiola’s squad.

Still, the divisive Swede scored a not-terrible 21 goals, including a winner in El Clasico, and won a La Liga title during his unhappy stay in Catalonia.

Ibrahimovic went on to score hundreds more goals and lots more trophies before finally hanging up his boots, at the age of 41, last summer. He’s now working with AC Milan’s owners RedBird Capital as a senior advisor.

READ: The 10 worst signings of Pep Guardiola’s career: Ibrahimovic, Gotze, Phillips…

2010-11: David Villa

Replacing Ibrahimovic as Barcelona’s main man up top, fresh from his starring role in Spain’s 2010 World Cup glory, was Villa.

La Roja’s all-time top goalscorer had proven himself in La Liga with Valencia and immediately looked right at home. He struck up a brilliant front three with Pedro and Messi and was fantastic during his debut season, winning both the league and Champions League.

Injuries meant he wasn’t quite as prolific in subsequent seasons, but he did recover to help deliver Atletico Madrid the La Liga title at Barcelona’s expense in 2013-14. Spells in the United States, Australia and Japan followed before retirement in 2020.

Nowadays he’s focused on his DV7 Group business, which manages youth academies around the world.

2011-12: Cesc Fabregas

La Masia’s prodigal son eventually returned home in 2011 after years of tabloid speculation.

The playmaker only played for one season under Guardiola and was relatively underwhelming during his three-year stay back home but offered a reminder of his class on his return to the Premier League with a superb stint at Chelsea.

After seeing out the final year of his playing career at Como, he’s now serving as an assistant coach with the Serie B club, who look a solid bet to get promoted this season.

2013-14: Mario Gotze

Everything was signed, sealed and delivered for Gotze to join Bayern Munich before Guardiola arrived following his year-long sabbatical in 2013.

He was a spectator as his Dortmund team-mates lost to his new employer in the 2013 Champions League final, completing a treble that gave Guardiola a hard act to follow.

Gotze ended his first season at Bayern by scoring the goal that clinched the World Cup for Germany.

And during his time in Bavaria, he actually scored more goals in fewer games than he did during his first stint with Dortmund – though there remains a sense he was underwhelming, never quite kicking on to become the bonafide world-beater so many predicted.

He left Bayern the same summer as Guardiola and returned to Dortmund but couldn’t quite recapture his best form under Jurgen Klopp. Nowadays he’s at Eintracht Frankfurt, a solid if unspectacular Bundesliga player.

2014-15: Medhi Benatia

After Guardiola’s first full season in Germany, Bayern backed him bigtime by recruiting a veteran Xabi Alonso, on a cut-price fee from Real Madrid, and Robert Lewandowski, on a free from Borussia Dortmund.

But neither were the club’s most expensive signing that summer. That was Medhi Benatia, coming off the back of a fine season at Roma. But the former Morocco international never quite settled at Bayern and made just 29 Bundesliga appearances in two years before leaving for Juventus.

These days he’s serving as Marseille’s sporting director. Pretty good going considering he’s only 37 years of age.


READ NEXT: Where are they now? Pep Guardiola’s first 10 signings as Man City boss

TRY A QUIZ: Can you name Pep Guardiola’s 30 most-used players throughout his career?


2015-16: Arturo Vidal

“If I have to go to war, I would definitely take Arturo with me,” reminisced Guardiola of his one season working with the Chilean, his last big-name signing at Bayern.

“I have very good memories of him at Bayern, he is a nice and extremely competitive man. You can kick Vidal in the chest and he will always put his face if needed.”

Vidal stayed at Bayern for three seasons, winning the requisite three Bundesliga titles, and later continued his tour of Europe’s elite clubs by going to Barcelona and Inter Milan.

Earlier this year, the 36-year-old rejoined boyhood club Colo-Colo.

2016-17: John Stones

“I thought I knew football to a decent degree when I came,” Stones recalled following his key role in Man City’s treble last season.

“Pep made me feel like I knew nothing. He’s opened my eyes to so much, he’s kind of reinvented my brain.”

The Barnsley Beckenbauer was one of Guardiola’s first signings in English football, having proven himself a promising player at Roberto Martinez’s Everton. He’s had his ups and downs at City over the years but he remains among Pep’s most trusted lieutenants, having racked up over 250 appearances across his eight seasons at the Etihad.

TRY A QUIZ : Can you name every player Pep Guardiola has used at Man City?

2017-18: Aymeric Laporte

Yet more money was pumped into improving City’s porous defence after an underwhelming third-place finish in Guardiola’s first season – the lowest placing of his managerial career.

Laporte looked the business as a thoroughly forward-thinking centre-back, having come up under Marcelo Bielsa at Athletic Bilbao and establishing himself one of La Liga’s top defenders. He cost City a club-record £57million fee in January 2018, a rare winter window entry in this list, when they were well on the way to their record-smashing 100-point tally.

The Basque defender intermittently looked the part as he racked up trophy after trophy at City but had fallen down the pecking order to a role of peripheral squad option during his final, treble-winning, season.

Last summer he left for Al Nassr but has spoken about some of his frustrations of living in Saudi Arabia. It wouldn’t be a shock to see the 29-year-old return to a big club in Europe in the next year or two.

2018-19: Riyad Mahrez

The Algerian left for the Saudi Pro League alongside Laporte after the perfect goodbye. He’d notched 78 goals and 56 assists in 236 appearances for City, maintaining the lofty standards he’d set in Leicester City’s miracle title triumph.

Mahrez is currently lining up alongside fellow Premier League old boys Roberto Firmino and Allan Saint-Maximin for Ah-Ahli, who currently sit a distant third place in the Saudi top flight.

2019-20: Rodri

After a year or so serving as Fernandinho’s apprentice at the base of Guardiola’s midfield, Rodri has more than made that position his own in recent years.

There’s very little argument that he’s the best defensive midfielder in world football right now.

TRY A QUIZ: The Ultimate Pep Guardiola Quiz: 30 tough questions to test your knowledge of a tactical genius

2020-21: Ruben Dias

Another outstanding piece of recruitment, Dias won the Premier League Player of the Season in his debut campaign.

He’s won everything there is to win and is currently eyeing a fourth league title in as many seasons.

The Portugal international hasn’t quite got the plaudits of Virgil van Dijk or William Saliba this season, but he remains a dependable part of Guardiola’s well-oiled machine.

2021-22: Jack Grealish

It’s been a funny few years for Grealish, who went from one of the most entertaining players in the country at Aston Villa to something altogether more functional for Guardiola’s City.

English football’s first £100million footballer has his doubters in his debut season before coming good with a useful if not all that flashy role in City’s treble. He’s endured injury frustrations in his third season but he could yet be decisive in the title race run-in.

2022-23: Erling Haaland

The Norwegian might not be in the best form of late but 83 goals in 92 games isn’t exactly a poor record.

Earlier this season he smashed his own record for the fastest player to reach 50 goals in a major European league.

2023-24: Josko Gvardiol

The jury remains out on the Croatian. But we wouldn’t be surprised at all to see Gvardiol become another success story under Guardiola.





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