Football in the 1990s was packed with memorable cult heroes and that is exactly what Georgi Kinkladze was for Manchester City.
The popular Georgian, now 48, represented the club between 1995 and 1998, conjuring up swashbuckling displays across the country – most notably at Maine Road.
Memories of Kinkladze and City’s former home have now been eclipsed by a hugely-successful Pep Guardiola era which has seen trophy after trophy return to the Etihad Stadium.
Having coasted to a third Premier League title in four seasons – in addition to winning another Carabao Cup – City and their world-renowned Spanish coach fell short in the Champions League showpiece last season.
However, that marked a step closer to winning THE competition they dream of in these parts.
Around the time Kinkladze laced up his boots and donned that famous blue jersey, those sky-high targets were merely pipe-dreams back then, but the Georgian represented an era where style was at the forefront across the newly-established Premier League scene.
Fast-forward 18 years from his arrival and City have splashed out big for £100million man Jack Grealish.
On the back of his own eye-catching displays for Aston Villa – and England at Euro 2020 – he was summoned to compliment an attacking line-up that also features Kevin de Bruyne, academy graduate Phil Foden, Riyad Mahrez, Raheem Sterling and others.
So where would Kinkladze fit in with Guardiola and that star-studded ensemble?
During an in-depth interview with football magazine FourFourTwo, the 48-year-old former playmaker was asked how much he would be worth in the modern transfer market.
Kinkladze joked: “A billion and a half!”
So does that mean he would be a shoo-in for a place in the starting XI these days?
He added: “It’s hard to say, but I’d definitely play.
“Pep Guardiola is among the three best coaches of all-time, so I don’t think I’d have too much problem adapting to the team’s philosophy. If I played how I did with the old City, imagine what I could have done under Guardiola in an all-star team?”
Having signed for the club in 1995 from Dinamo Tbilisi, the 59-cap international went on to play 40 games for City.
Kinkladze scored four goals during that time – but his iconic spell in sky blue was about more than simply numbers, while he later played for Ajax and Derby County, among others.
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