Player ratings for Manchester City’s 2022-23 Premier League title winners | Manchester City


Close to flawless. Again. The Brazilian is the unassuming star of City’s backline who, under pressure, initiates attacks by coolly tapping the ball short, or has the vision to launch a 50-yard hail mary into Erling Haaland. Can be dominant in the air and has panther-like reflexes when required. 9

Kyle Walker

An interesting season for a defender who became Pep Guardiola’s de facto team weather vane. “Kyle is back,” said the manager of his attitude in training in February before next month dropping him, later explaining this was because “he cannot do it” – function as the inverted defender-midfielder. Nathan Aké’s injury allowed a way back and Walker is again firmly in favour. 8

Rico Lewis

The youngster had a sole Football League Trophy appearance in October 2022 on the CV before he became, to paraphrase Guardiola, vital to City’s three-peat triumph, rejuvenating the manager and the more gnarled squad members via the youngster’s “wow” reaction to being part of the title tilt. The way Lewis smoothly operated as Guardiola’s “Philipp Lahm” defender-midfielder hybrid was, for an 18-year-old, staggering. 9

Rico Lewis of Manchester City controls the ball during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur at Etihad Stadium in January 2023.
Rico Lewis of Manchester City controls the ball against Spurs at the Etihad. Photograph: Michael Regan/Getty Images

João Cancelo

In a fallout with Guardiola there is only going to be one winner and it was not a defender who had a claim to be one of the brightest of stars in City’s glittering firmament. Cue the 28-year-old being loaned to Bayern Munich and this not backfiring on the manager. 6

Aymeric Laporte

A first choice last season after being out of favour the previous term, this season his unwanted game of defensive musical chairs with John Stones found him with no regular place in the XI. The reasons: Stones’s playmaking talents and Nathan Aké’s and Manuel Akanji’s ability in duels. 7

Rúben Dias

Dias is a Guardiola favourite because his cold-eyed focus epitomises the quasi-obsessed-with-the-sport nature the manager hints that all of his footballers should possess. Add a warrior mentality and the calmest of heads and the Portuguese is a standout of the championship triumph. 9

John Stones

Stones was at Everton in 2015-16 when Pep Guardiola identified the boy from Barnsley as the defender-playmaker who could be a fulcrum of his nascent side, and seven years later Stones has finally bloomed into this. Fluid, intuitive, and classy: whether from the centre or right of the rearguard, when stepping into midfield traffic this season he has appeared born to do so. 10

Nathan Aké

A joker in the City defensive pack because last summer he was apparently deemed surplus to Guardiola’s requirements and might have been sold. But, no. Cancelo’s departure and Aké’s spirited determination to give the manager a selection dilemma made him a regular in the biggest games, the Dutchman’s reliability a calling card. 9

Manuel Akanji

Has a football brain that may be related to a brilliant mind for numbers. The Swiss’s ability to compute Guardiola’s geometrical demands and execute these made him a go-to in his debut campaign. Signed primarily as a central defender, Akanji has moved to full-back and excelled there, too. 9

Manuel Akanji heads the ball during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Fulham at the Etihad Stadium in November 2022.
Manuel Akanji uses his head against Fulham. Photograph: Richard Callis/MB Media/Getty Images

Sergio Gómez

Nine Premier League appearances for a 22-year-old Spaniard who won the 2017 Under-17 World Cup Silver Ball as the second-best player behind Phil Foden and who is now primarily a left-back after being a midfielder. 6


A sublime holding player who misses a 10 only because of the view here that he should score far more given that he regularly glides into threatening zones in an opponent’s area and fires home the occasional strike from long range. 9.5

Kalvin Phillips

An enigma whose first season at City has to be characterised as a disaster. The pro-Phillips camp will point to his pre-World Cup shoulder injury as a hindrance but a former England player of the year should have been able to adapt to the demands in “short spaces” from Guardiola by now. He is yet to start a Premier League match and was then accused of returning from Qatar 2022 overweight. 5

Ilkay Gündogan

“Rolls-Royce”; “velveteen operator”; “always in control”: choose your sobriquet for a so-clever middle-of-the-pitch schemer who elevated himself further by scoring twice at Everton and twice against Leeds in May, so doubling his tally. 9

Ilkay Gündogan controls the ball against Leeds on a day when his goals secured a win for Manchester City.
Ilkay Gündogan controls the ball against Leeds on a day when his goals secured a win for Manchester City. Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Observer

Bernardo Silva

The Portuguese, like Gündogan, could exit in the close season and if so will leave behind as impressive a body of work. Silva can be a Messi-style touchline menaceowing to a talent for dribbling and an infield maestro with spatial awareness when deployed there. 8

Kevin De Bruyne

During City’s late winter-early spring tepid phase that featured (in January) Guardiola’s “happy flowers” criticism, De Bruyne was told by his manager to do the “simple things perfectly” (March). The subsequent fruits: three goals and five assists in the next four league outings from a footballer who in scoring home and away against Arsenal showed his big-game mentality. 10

Erling Haaland

A romping stomping debut season from a No 9 who is redrawing what is possible for a Premier League striker in the same fashion the great New Zealand back Jonah Lomu did in rugby union. Haaland is a phenomenon whose 36 Premier League strikes in 33 games is an extraordinary achievement. 10

Riyad Mahrez

In any other team the Algerian’s out-wide wizardry casts him as a shoo-in first choice but like Silva, Foden, Gündogan (earlier in the term) and others he has to be ready when called upon and usually is, though his count of five goals in 27 appearances is down on last year’s 11 in 28. 8

Julián Álvarez

Being Haaland’s stand-in may be difficult owing to the lack of game time but the Argentinian can point to eight league goals and if a lack of assists will not please his manager – or the player – Álvarez has made only 11 starts in 28 appearances totalling 1,251 minutes. 9

Julián Álvarez celebrates scoring the second City goal during the Premier League match between Fulham and Manchester City at Craven Cottage in April 2023.
Julián Álvarez celebrates after scoring at Fulham in April. Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian

Jack Grealish

A superb second season for the winger, whose aggression when taking on defenders often claims free-kicks or causes mayhem that can lead to goals. It was a surprise to hear Guardiola state that Grealish was, in essence, overawed when joining for £100m two summers ago. Not any more. 9

Phil Foden

Injury – to a foot – and appendicitis has made the “Stockport Iniesta” more peripheral than he is accustomed to but the 22-year-old is back in robust physical shape and because he can operate across the frontline and in attacking midfield he is an invaluable and trusted Guardiola weapon. 7

Stefan Ortega

The goalkeeper was given a Premier League debut in the 3-0 win over West Ham at the start of May: his sole league outing this season. 8

Cole Palmer

The academy product made 11 substitute appearances, six before the end of October. 6

Maximo Perrone

Eighteen minutes in February’s 4-1 win at Bournemouth was all of the Argentinian midfielder’s action. 6

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