In recent seasons, Manchester City‘s best players have been among the world’s finest.
Sergio Aguero is one of the best strikers on the planet, Yaya Toure has been pretty much unmatched as a marauding central midfielder since joining City, and Vincent Kompany is up there with the finest centra-backs the Premier League has seen.
But not so long ago, City’s legends were players who possessed a more modest skillset – but that doesn’t mean they weren’t fantastic players.
One of the few who could get close to Pep Guardiola’s side today was Ali Benarbia, an Algerian maestro who played an essential role in the club’s history.
Signed on a free transfer by Kevin Keegan in 2001 from Paris Saint-Germain. With a similar style to David Silva, Benarbia was the best player that season, helping them gain promotion back to the Premier League.
Benarbia built up a rapport with Eyal Berkovic, and the pair were the perfect support acts for the top scorer Shaun Goater that season.
The following season, Benarbia was made captain, and helped City to a ninth-place finish. Although he still sparkled at times, Benarbia was 34 and struggled somewhat with the pace of the Premier League.
After a pre-season game against Barcelona to mark the opening of the City of Manchester Stadium, Benarbia called time on his stint at City and initially his playing career.
“This is a decision I have thought about very carefully,” he said.
“My aim when I joined MCFC was always to help the team gain promotion, and then to become established in the Premiership.