Chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak believes leading players now want to join Manchester City for more than just money.

The Emirati businessman says the Blues were forced to pay high fees to attract players after Abu Dhabi United Group took charge of the club in 2008.

Early signings included Brazilian duo Robinho and Jo for £32.5m and £19m.

Al Mubarak says City had to pay “big premiums” but are now a club players want to join.

He said: “We were having to pay big premiums to attract the players we wanted to attract given we weren’t in Europe.

“We’re in a different position. We’re a club players want to come and play for. We’re an institution today.”

City’s major signings in 2008-09

Player From Reported fee


Real Madrid



CSKA Moscow


Nigel De Jong



Craig Bellamy

West Ham


Wayne Bridge



Shaun Wright-Phillips



Pablo Zabaleta



Vincent Kompany



Shay Given



Market heating up

Al Mubarak believes City now have the infrastructure to lure leading players but expects competition to be fierce when the transfer window opens on 1 July.

“We can compete head-to-head with all the top clubs,” he said. “Players look at the track record of Manchester City over the last couple of years, look at the academy, the facilities, infrastructure, the people in terms of management and coaches – we have a very attractive proposition for players.

Liverpool forward Raheem Sterling

Liverpool forward Raheem Sterling is among the players Manchester City have been linked with

“Nevertheless, the market is a hot market. I think this year will be an aggressive market. I expect it will be a huge market this summer from what I’ve heard and sensed so far – and we haven’t even started.”

‘Changes will make us stronger’

After winning the Premier League and League Cup in 2013-14, City ended last season without a trophy. Manuel Pellegrini’s team also exited the Champions League at the last-16 stage for the second successive campaign and Al Mubarak suggested changes would be made to the squad during the summer.

He said: “Every year players come and players go. We’ve created a great nucleus at Manchester City. We want to preserve this nucleus but at the same time we want to go to the next level.

“We want a squad which is able and has the capability and quality to win the Premier League, to compete and win the Champions League and be able to go all the way in two cup competitions in England.

“There are some players who have served us well. Maybe it’s time for them to move to their next challenge and you will see us in the market bringing in high-quality individuals that fit within what we are aspiring to.”

‘Disappointment shows how far we’ve come’

City’s spending led to them being punished under Financial Fair Play rules in May 2014.

Pellegrini was still able to add defender Eliaquim Mangala for £32m, midfielder Fernando for £12m, goalkeeper Willy Caballero for £6m and striker Wilfried Bony for £28m last season, but the team could only finish as runners-up to Chelsea.

Manchester City striker Wilfried Bony

Wilfried Bony joined Manchester City from Swansea in January 2015

Al Mubarak said: “It was a disappointing season. To end the season empty handed, this is not what we have built here – what we desire here at a team that is a winning organisation.

“While there were a lot of positives that we take out of the season, from a purely results perspective it was disappointing and is a testament to how far we’ve gone.

“If you asked me seven years ago that in seven years we will end the season second in the Premier League, we will be exiting the Champions League in the round of 16, losing to Barcelona, and that we would be extremely disappointed by that, this is a testament to how far we’ve gone.”