Manchester City got more than their money's worth from Gael Clichy

Manchester City rarely get credit for being frugal. It's partly because they've regularly spent hundreds of millions of pounds on their summer transfers and haven't been scouting around to pick up a player on the cheap.

However, it can't be ignored that City generally don't do that well when taking a low-risk punt on a signing who may turn out to be a great addition but who won't ruin the club financially if it doesn't work out.

Scott Sinclair, an £8m acquisition from Swansea in 2012, and Jack Rodwell, a £12m purchase from Everton that same summer, are often held up as examples of why promising players shouldn't move to the Etihad. Both had their problems, but ultimately neither impressed while at City. The former was never a great match for what then-manager Roberto Mancini wanted, and the latter was plagued by injuries in his two-year stay.

Maicon, Martin Demichelis, Willy Caballero and Fabian Delph have all since had relatively small amounts of money spent on them and have worked with varying degrees of success.

The full-back Maicon was useless. Fans are still waiting to see the best of the former Aston Villa captain Delph. Demichelis is looked on favourably for a great 12-month spell in his three years.

Caballero's penalty heroics in the League Cup final win over Liverpool in 2016 make him a cult hero -- and not much more. He'd have faded to the background had Claudio Bravo not been an expensive flop last season.

In fact, there's an argument to say that City haven't had a good return on one of their attempted shrewd moves since they snapped up Gael Clichy from Arsenal for £7m in July 2011.

He may have finished his career at Eastlands floundering around the left-back position as a shadow of the defender he once was, but it's worth remembering that he slotted in seamlessly to Mancini's back line and helped shore up a weakness in what would be the club's first title-winning campaign in 44 years.

Before Clichy's arrival, Mancini had problems with that side of his defence. Wayne Bridge, still at City but miles away from the first team, wasn't up to scratch, and Aleksandar Kolarov was finding it difficult to adapt to life at his new club.

In 2010-11, Kolarov worked better in theory than he did in practise. The concept of having a left-back who could work up and down the flank as both an attacking threat and a defensive stalwart was appealing, but the City fans weren't getting much by way of return. In fact, Pablo Zabaleta played a lot of the end of that campaign on that side of the pitch, out of position.

The manager solved that with a smart move for Clichy, stealing him from under Arsenal's nose for very little in the grand scheme of City's spending.

Let's not get ahead of ourselves and inflate his role, but his last 18 months have severely tarnished what he did for the club when he first arrived. He could be remembered as a busted flush rather than an adequate and reliable option for the team in two title-winning seasons and two League Cup victories because of it.

Nevertheless, it became abundantly clear toward the end of Pep Guardiola's first season in Manchester that Clichy just wasn't up to the task of doing what the manager wanted. His defensive solidity had faded away, and his ability on the ball and his positional awareness left a lot to be desired.

In truth, he probably only played so much in 2016-17 because Kolarov was pressed into centre-back duties in Vincent Kompany's continued absence and erratic displays from John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi.

For at least four of his six years with City, Clichy was a consistent performer in a world of superstars and headline-grabbers elsewhere on the pitch, and he never got the credit he deserved for it. He wouldn't be the match-winner and he wouldn't be the first name on the teamsheet, but it was only toward the end of his career at the Etihad where fans were truly critical.

Defending the flanks is one huge issue that Guardiola needs to address this summer. It's been neglected for too long; and in the time since the club last spent money on a full-back, £5m for Maicon in 2012, both Clichy and Zabaleta waned significantly, especially in the last couple of years.

In allowing both to leave at the end of their contracts, the club has finally forced its own hand into doing something. If the manager can get defenders on either side able to cope better with his positional play and possession demands -- and who can stop a cross or time a tackle -- then many of City's issues will be solved ahead of 2017-18.

For Clichy, it brings down the curtain on what should be remembered as a solid, if not spectacular City career. Even with a poor end to his time in Manchester, the Frenchman has certainly proved value for money -- something the club hasn't managed to get from many players in quite some time.