The 12 players to play for Liverpool and Man City in the Premier League
Liverpool and Manchester City have been the Premier League’s big hitters in recent years and it’s been compelling viewing watching the two great sides slug it out.
Particularly during Jurgen Klopp’s Anfield tenure and Pep Guardiola’s time at Man City, the two teams have possessed a plethora of elite players within their respective ranks.
The chances of either of the world’s finest footballing brains – Klopp and Guardiola – selling one of their treasured assets to one another, is so far-fetched, it’s not even worth considering as a possibility.
But before Liverpool and City were propelled to levels of outlandish excellence, it wasn’t uncommon for individuals to have a stint of donning both clubs’ strips etched onto their CV.
We’ve taken a closer look at the 12 players in the Premier League era who played at both North West clubs.
The former England international, who boasts the record of making the fifth most Premier League appearances of all-time (572), was snapped up by Graeme Souness’ Liverpool in August 1992 from Watford.
James played 277 times and won the 1995 League Cup with the Reds before leaving in June 1999 to join Aston Villa in a deal worth £1.8million.
In January 2004, the then England No.1 arrived at Kevin Keegan’s City, and he remained in Manchester for two-and-a-half seasons before Portsmouth secured his services.
His highlight at the Etihad wasn’t anything to do with his goalkeeping skills, but rather when Stuart Pearce briefly deployed James as a striker in a last-ditch attempt to earn the club UEFA Cup qualification on the last day of the 2004-05 campaign – Pearce wanted him to “unsettle” Middlesbrough’s defence.
David James @ Striker. #OnThisDay in 2005.
— City Xtra (@City_Xtra) May 14, 2021
Liverpool’s all-time record goalscorer Ian Rush once described McManaman as the most exciting player in Liverpool’s ranks when he was a youngster; it quickly became apparent why he lavishly praised the silky winger.
After progressing through the Reds’ academy, McManaman made his first-team debut in the first division at Anfield in 1990. The local boy swiftly rose to international stardom, but eventually left the Premier League on a Bosman transfer to join Spanish giants Real Madrid in the summer of 1999.
He returned to the Premier League with City in 2003 and played a fleeting role in a two-season stay in Manchester – at that point, Macca was very much in the twilight of a glistening career.
Fowler also stormed through the youth teams at Liverpool to become a key player – to the extent he was known as “God” by the Kop.
In 369 appearances, the former England international bagged 189 goals in a red shirt, which is a tally only bettered by three other players in the club’s history – Rush, Gordon Hodgson and Roger Hunt. No Liverpool player has scored more Premier League goals.
With Gerard Houllier favouring other forward options, against his wishes, Fowler was sold to Leeds United in 2001 and subsequently found himself at Man City two years later.
His best goalscoring return at the Citizens saw him net 11 league goals in the 2004-05 season, but he largely failed to shine in a three-season stay.
To the surprise of many, Fowler returned to Anfield under Rafael Benitez in 2006. It was a fairytale 18-month return, even if Fowler wasn’t the all-action deadly finisher we saw torment defenders throughout his pomp in the 90s.
The French striker impressed during a loan spell at Anfield from PSG in the 2001-02 season. It’s viewed as one of Liverpool’s biggest transfer market errors that they opted to sign El Hadji Diouf rather than making Anelka a permanent acquisition.
“Everything was perfect [at Liverpool]! I loved everything about the club,” Anelka said in 2020.” I had an amazing relationship with the fans. I loved them and I think it was reciprocal.”
The serial trophy winner joined Keegan’s Man City in May 2002 for £13million from the Parisiens, and he would go on to net 37 Premier League goals in under 100 outings for the club.
Even Riera himself probably forgets he played for City once upon a time; he only registered 19 games during a loan spell from Espanyol in 2006.
Benitez brought the left-sided defender back to the Premier League in September 2008. He was a regular starter in his maiden campaign for a Liverpool side that pushed Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United close to the title.
But his relationship with his Spanish boss deteriorated as his time at the club progressed.
“I’ve been here two years and I know how he [Benitez] is. He has never sorted out a situation with a player by talking with him. His dialogue with the players is practically nil,” Riera said in 2010.
Despite Benitez being replaced by Roy Hodgson in the dugout, Riera left the Reds to try and resurrect his career after suffering a knee injury in pre-season training prior to the 2010-11 season.
The former Germany international follows a trend in this list of names so far – better for Liverpool than City.
Hamann won six trophies in a seven-year Anfield stay from 1999-2006. His second-half introduction in the Reds’ remarkable 2005 Champions League final comeback victory over AC Milan was his finest display whilst at the club.
After bowing out with an FA Cup crown in 2006, the midfielder joined City on a free transfer after the initial plan to join Bolton Wanderers changed.
Hamann struggled to cement a regular starting place at the Etihad in his three seasons at the club.
Bellamy had two spells at Liverpool – 2006-2007 and 2011-12 – but his second stint was far more memorable as he won the Carling Cup under Sir Kenny Dalglish.
Between 2009 and 2010, the former Wales international netted 10 times for City in 41 appearances under Mark Hughes. A wonderful goal in the Manchester derby at Old Trafford in September 2009 was the pick of the bunch.
READ: Revisiting the weird Liverpool XI that won the 2012 League Cup
The current Perth Glory striker was highly rated at City as a teenager, but he chose to make the switch to Chelsea when his contract expired in July 2009 as he searched for regular first-team action.
That wasn’t forthcoming at Stamford Bridge either, but Brendan Rodgers took a punt on the striker to bring him to Anfield to play in tandem with Luis Suarez in 2013.
The two formed a formidable partnership and Sturridge nearly helped Liverpool end a long wait for a league title in 2014, but the Reds ultimately fell short.
If it wasn’t for injuries at the club, which became more frequent when Klopp arrived, Sturridge may have gone down as one of the greatest forwards the Kop has ever seen in the Premier League era.
In a four-year stay at the Etihad from 2009-2013, the centre-back was part of Roberto Mancini’s side that won the club’s first Premier League title in dramatic style in 2012 – he also won an FA Cup at City.
The former Ivory Coast international joined Rodgers at Liverpool on a free following the expiry of his City contract. Like Sturridge, Toure featured regularly for the Reds in their second-place 2013-14 finish, his debut season with the club.
Although, after Rodgers left Anfield, Klopp favoured others over the ageing defender which saw him leave the club at the end of the 2016-17 season.
Balotelli’s time at City, following his arrival from Inter Milan in 2010, is remembered more for his off-field misdemeanours rather than his showings on the pitch.
The striker left the Manchester outfit to return to his homeland with AC Milan in 2013 after netting 20 goals across all competitions. He was predominantly utilised as an impact player under Mancini.
The 31-year-old was back in the Premier League just one-year later with Rodgers confident he could extract performances from a supremely talented striker that we had only seen sparingly previously.
“Balotelli should be one of the top three strikers in the world,” Rodgers said after his spell in the Anfield dugout ended.
He failed to impress on Merseyside – he was loaned back to AC Milan – and on his return, new boss Klopp certainly didn’t fancy the Italian as he was sold in 2016 to French side Nice.
Milner was a fan favourite at Man City after joining from Aston Villa in the summer of 2010 for a hefty £26million fee.
He scored 19 goals and provided 45 assists in 203 appearances before refusing multiple contract extensions due to his desire to play in central midfield – Rodgers offered him the opportunity to do this at Liverpool.
Over seven years since he arrived at Anfield, Milner’s game-time is dwindling in Klopp’s all-conquering side, but he’s still an important squad player after winning everything there is to win whilst at the club.
“His attitude is outstanding,” Klopp said about his vice-captain in 2019. “Millie is a sports guy, in each sport he is doing he is brilliant. Without Millie it wouldn’t have been possible.
“His kind of a little bit dirty dressing-room talks, I cannot do, these things you say in the dressing room that I am not allowed to say in public. That’s the last little kick and that’s nice.”
READ: An XI of players left out of James Milner’s best XI he played with
After joining Liverpool as a youngster from QPR, Sterling’s path to the Reds’ first team was rapid as he made his debut in the Premier League against Wigan Athletic as a 17-year-old.
The England international racked up 40 goal contributions in 129 appearances before he joined City in 2015. He thought a switch to the Citizens would see him more likely to pick up silverware, and he won everything but the Champions League in his time at the club. Only Kevin De Bruyne has made more under Guardiola.
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