According to the Dortmund based publication Ruhr Nachrichten, Manchester City fans can start to get excited because the recruiting of Borussia Dortmund and Germany midfield star Ilkay Gündogan is a near formality. They understand that an agreement between representatives of Manchester City and Gündogan is in place and all that remains is for the two clubs to agree a fee, believed to be in the region of €25-30m, which is currently around £19.9-23.9m. Although nothing official has been announced, the paper also understands that Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel has been told to plan for the future without one of his favourite players.
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Incoming City boss Pep Guardiola is known to be an admirer of Gündogan and came close to signing him for Bayern Munich last summer. That deal fell apart, but it appears Guardiola will finally get his man and what a signing he would be. I’ve long felt that Manchester City lacked a touch of class in central midfield, they have it in other areas of the pitch, but not in the hub of the team, a vital area of the pitch if City are to compete consistently with the very best in Europe. Yaya Toure has been excellent in his time at City, he’s been a game changer that’s helped them collect domestic prizes, but is not known for his positional discipline and his mobility is on the wane. Toure’s best and most effective work for City has been in the attacking areas, meaning he’s left City light in the centre when he’s played in a two man midfield. Fernandinho has been very good in the defensive role and City clearly miss him when he’s not there, but the fact Manuel Pellegrini has often opted to play Fernando alongside Fernandinho to provide more balance and prevent them being so exposed in that area of the pitch speaks volumes.
The key word I’ve used there is balance, something I believe Gündogan will bring the City midfield, along with class, creativity, vision and the ability to set a tempo. Guardiola is famed for the passing style he likes his teams to have and his teams have a general, a player who sets the tempo and directs the play and Gündogan is one of the best around in that.
Born in Gelsenkirchen, Gündogan came through the ranks at Vfl Bochum, but after just two appearances for the second team he moved to Nürnberg. It was there he caught the eye of Borussia Dortmund and in the summer of 2011 they snapped him up for a reported €4m. After a season of settling in, it was the 2012/13 campaign under then manager Jürgen Klopp that Gündogan really exploded onto the scene by playing a pivotal role in Dortmund reaching the Champions League final.
The midfielder’s combination of technique, dribbling, vision and passing range caught the attention of Europe’s elite, but a long standing back injury halted any talks of a move and also prevented him from being a part of Germany’s 2014 World Cup winning team. His back injury cost him over a year of his career, but he slowly rebuilt his fitness last year and has this season returned to the form that had the biggest names in European football casting an admiring glance.
Klopp has described Gündogan as an “intelligent and complete midfielder with numerous strengths”, citing his positive attitude and willingness to learn. He also eulogised of his “creativity and outstanding passing with the defensive attributes and tireless energy needed” to play in Klopp’s successful Dortmund system. The fact such successful and high profile coaches as Klopp and Guardiola have so much admiration for Gündogan should go some way to quantifying what a fantastic signing the 25 year old could be for Manchester City.
He is likely to play a leading role in Germany’s Euro 2016 campaign this summer, so City moving quickly to have a deal in place early makes perfect sense. Though he is likely to command a hefty wage, that will be balanced out by the reduced transfer fee City will be paying for a player of his class, due to Gündogan only having one year remaining on his contract at Dortmund. His positional awareness, skill, vision, invention and intelligence on the ball should make him a Premier League star and perhaps tip the balance of the title next season towards the Etihad.