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Five of the best players to play for Man City and Chelsea

Manchester City meet Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-finals this weekend, as the teams compete for a place in the decider.

Cole Palmer will be one of the narratives of the clash pre-game, as the Chelsea star prepares to face his former team at Wembley. The 21-year-old has been outstanding since swapping Manchester City for west London in the summer, shining amid a prominent role in Mauricio Pochettino’s plans.

Palmer has scored 23 goals in all competitions this season and, alongside teammate Raheem Sterling, is one of several stars to have shone for both Manchester City and Chelsea in the Premier League era.

Ahead of this weekend’s clash, we’ve remembered five other names who represented both clubs.

Five of the best players to play for Manchester City and Chelsea:

Shaun Wright-Phillips

A huge fans’ favourite at Manchester City, Wright-Phillips emerged from the club’s academy ranks and established himself as one of the most exciting young wingers in the Premier League.

Following his breakthrough as a teenager, he was named the club’s Young Player of the Year for four consecutive campaigns, performances which attracted the attention of a recently-rich Chelsea side who signed him in a £21m deal in 2005.

Despite winning the Premier League and FA Cup, the move to Chelsea saw his career stall as he failed to establish himself as a regular first-choice. He was a notable omission from the matchday squad for the 2008 Champions League final.

After three seasons in west London, he returned to Manchester City in a cut-price deal, scoring twice on his second debut.

He featured regularly across the next two campaigns before falling out of favour, departing for Queens Park Rangers in 2011 having made 275 appearances over two spells with the club.

Frank Lampard

The greatest player in Chelsea’s history? Certainly a contender.

Chelsea secured the signing of Frank Lampard from London rivals West Ham in 2001, with the midfielder becoming one of the best players in Premier League history after crossing the capital.

In 13 seasons at Stamford Bridge, Lampard won 11 major honours, including three Premier League titles and the Champions League. A prolific goalscorer from midfield, Lampard eclipsed Bobby Tambling’s record to become Chelsea’s record goalscorer, leaving the club in 2014 having amassed 211 goals in all competitions.

He moved to MLS side New York City following his departure from the Premier League, only to return on loan at sister club Manchester City, a move which was criticised by sections of the Chelsea support.

His sole season in Manchester delivered eight goals in 38 appearances, his first famously coming against former club Chelsea at the Etihad.

Lampard remains the sixth-highest goalscorer in Premier League history with 177 top-flight goals.

Nicolas Anelka

The nomadic forward enjoyed spells at six different English clubs throughout his career, taking in spells at both Manchester City and Chelsea.

Anelka signed for Manchester City after a brief loan spell at Liverpool, with The Citizens benefitting from the Reds’ reluctance to sign the forward permanently.

Anelka scored 45 goals in 103 appearances across two-and-a-half seasons at the club, form which helped the club reestablish itself as a top-flight side after promotion to the Premier League.

Having left for Fenerbahce he signed for Chelsea in 2008, via a spell at Bolton, where he formed a strong partnership with Didier Drogba at Stamford Bridge and won a host of silverware.

Anelka’s Chelsea career included a domestic double success in 2009/10, whilst the forward also claimed the Premier League’s Golden Boot after scoring 19 goals the previous season.

During perhaps the most settled period of his career in west London, he scored 59 goals in all competitions.

Daniel Sturridge

Sturridge came through the academy ranks at Manchester City, but made just 21 league appearances for the club before opting to join Chelsea following the expiry of his contract.

Despite City beginning to heavily invest under their new regime, Sturridge decided the move to London would be the best for his development and he spent three-and-a-half years at Stamford Bridge.


In that time the forward won a host of accolades including the Premier League, two FA Cups and the Champions League, though he was unable to dislodge the likes of Fernando Torres and Didier Drogba to become an automatic first-choice.

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The England international scored 24 goals in 96 appearances for Chelsea, before joining Liverpool in a £12m deal in January 2013.

Kevin De Bruyne

Chelsea’s decision to allow Kevin De Bruyne to leave the club must still rankle with the club’s hierarchy.

Having plucked the talented young midfielder from Belgian football, the club saw De Bruyne develop on loan in Germany before bringing him back into their squad ahead of the 2013/14 season.

Despite beginning the campaign in the side under Jose Mourinho, De Bruyne soon fell out of favour with the Chelsea boss and after just three league appearances was once again sent on loan.

He moved on permanently to sign for Wolfsburg, where he established himself as one of the Bundesliga’s finest players before returning to the Premier League in a then-club record deal at Manchester City.

His return to England has seen him go from strength to strength, flourishing into one of the finest midfield talents in world football in Pep Guardiola’s all-conquering side.

Part of the City team that earned a league record 100 points in 2017/18, he helped the club to English football’s first-ever domestic treble the following season, and a continental treble in 2022/23.

No player has ever reached 100 Premier League assists quicker than the brilliant Belgian, who equalled the single-season record after creating 20 goals during the 2019/20 campaign. Winner of the club’s Player of the Season accolade on a joint-record four occasions, he also won back-to-back PFA Player of the Year awards in 2020 and 2021.

Watching on as De Bruyne has become a Premier League great, Chelsea must still regret their decision to allow his exit.

Read: Noughties Nines: Nicolas Anelka – Sullen and spectacular

Read Also: Midfield Magicians: David Silva – El Mago

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