Roberto Mancini says he would not have allowed Daniel Sturridge to join Chelsea, had he been Manchester City manager at the time of the young forward's departure.
Sturridge left the Etihad Stadium for Stamford Bridge in 2009, after rejecting the offer of a new contract from City, who were then under the stewardship of Mark Hughes.
After a successful spell on loan with Bolton last season, the 22-year-old has established himself as a first-team regular for Chelsea this term.
Sturridge has also been awarded full international colours, and many are predicting he will have a place in Fabio Capello's squad for the European Championships next summer.
And, having closely monitored Sturridge's emergence at Stamford Bridge, Mancini struggles to understand how he was ever allowed to leave City in the first place.
"I know him very well. I have watched him many times. It's strange, he was brought up in Manchester and someone let him leave for virtually nothing," said Mancini, according to skysports.com.
"Sturridge is a really good player. He is young. Now we can't do anything because he's playing for Chelsea, but I would have seen him as one of the best young players at Manchester City.
"I asked him when he was playing for Bolton on loan last season, I asked him, 'Why did you leave Manchester City?' He said he didn't know why he had been allowed to leave.
"If he was here now, yes, he would be in the first team, and I think he will also arrive regularly in the national team.
"He would have been a great player for the future with us.
"I don't think it was difficult to see that he was a good player when he was young.
"When you have a young player like Sturridge, it's better to send him on loan (instead of letting him go) because he can improve."