Mark Hughes had played a blinder.
£10 million pounds was all it took to convince Hamburg into selling their 22-year-old crown jewel, a man who had burst onto the scene at Anderlecht as a gangly defender five years before.
Vincent Kompany had a big reputation but his performances justified the hype. Tall, strong and deceptively fast, he was tailor-made to flourish in the Premier League.
It was he who, as club captain, lifted Manchester City’s first ever Premier League trophy back in 2012, the talisman and leader of a team that looked ready to forge a dynasty.
Not going as planned
Football, however, is never so linear. Injury nixed most of the next campaign, just one of the 41 complaints that the Belgian had had to endure in his time at Eastlands.
When Pep Guardiola arrived in the Summer of 2016, Kompany’s future was thrown into serious doubt.
A dependable presence he might be, but the Belgian lacked the technical finesse and mobility so enamoured by his new coach.
With John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi preferred ahead of him, his prospects looked bleak.
Watching from the sidelines
City might have gone on to struggle in Guardiola's first year but his sophomore campaign has borne witness to one of the finest sides in recent memory.
His team are now champions-elect, having won the League Cup and with every chance of succeeding on the continental stage too.
Once more, however, Kompany has watched from the sidelines, making just 13 appearances all season. In the two years before that, he had managed just 34.
That was at least part of the reason why his goal celebration during Sunday’s League Cup final was so acute.
He was unstoppable throughout the game, displaying the kind of leadership and aggression that was vacant across the entire Arsenal defence. First to every ball, Kompany stormed the ineffectual Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in a dominant display.
Kompany has been more involved with the first team in recent weeks, starting against Basel in the Champions League as well as the 2-0 cakewalk against Cardiff in the FA Cup.
At 32, however, Kompany knows that his time at the club is drawing to a close.
Aymeric Laporte is another younger competitor in a team that already struggles to accommodate him.
The Belgian, who was raised by political activist and trade unionist parents, knows the value of his labour. But he is also pragmatic enough to realise that, slowly, the club is leaving him behind.
Captain, leader, legend
He’ll not struggle for things to do on retirement, should he decide that that is the most logical route.
A keen student with a master’s degree in business administration, the Belgian also owns a third division club in his native country. He speaks eloquently about the game and has the self-assurance to pursue any venture inside or out of the sport.
He could leave right now and already be regarded as a titan of Manchester’s blue half. His seven trophies have already seen to that.
Captain, leader, role model, legend. Take your pick: Kompany is all of them rolled into one.
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