Manchester City emphatically saw off Arsenal's challenge in the Carabao Cup final last night, giving Pep Guardiola his first trophy as the team's manager. It's almost 10 years since Sheikh Mansour arrived at the club and completely transformed them from Manchester United's quiet neighbours into perennial trophy hunters. The Carabao Cup triumph was the 7th win during the Mansour regime, a very good total for a club who had forgotten what it was like to win titles.
Much has been made of Guardiola's astounding spending spree since joining last season - he's now spent more on transfers than Arsene Wenger has in his whole time at Arsenal - but it was an excellent sight to see the names of the goalscorers in the 3-0 win: Sergio Aguero, Vincent Company, and David Silva are unquestionably City legends, having been there long before Guardiola arrived, and are vital parts of the tapestry of City's recent successes.
The talent around them in the team may be new, but they remain loyal to City's blueprint for the future. To celebrate this fact, here's a look at the 5 best Manchester City players to have played in the Sheikh Mansour era so far.
#5 Kevin De Bruyne
He may not have been the star yesterday but De Bruyne has simply been one of the best players in world football this season. His manager said recently that he thought he could even challenge Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo for the Ballon d'Or - high praise that is not without merit. A complete midfielder, the Belgian can control a football game like few others, dictating the play with his passing and running. He has 11 goals this season and many more assists; only] Liverpool's Mohamed Salah comes close to rivalling him for the EPL player of the year award.
He joined City in 2015 and has been their main playmaker ever since. When De Bruyne plays at his best, so do the team. City has been spoiled for creative choices this season since Guardiola pushed De Bruyne and the diminutive David Silva in a midfield three, allowing them both to freely move around the centre of the pitch and connect with their teammates. Neither have got in the way of the other and stifled their play, and both are enjoying incredibly strong campaigns because of it.
De Bruyne may deem himself unlucky to be only 5th on this list but it's a result of his shorter career at the club so far: his ability is immense but other City players have been performing to a high level for a longer time and have the trophy haul to show for it.