Ilkay Gundogan, the esteemed leader of Manchester City, finds himself at a crossroads as his contract nears its expiration at the end of this month. Despite his instrumental role in leading Pep Guardiola’s team to a historic treble during the 2022-2023 season, Gundogan has been included in the team’s dropped list, leaving his future uncertain.
Ilkay Gundogan’s Impact on Manchester City’s Success
During the remarkable 2022-2023 season, Ilkay Gundogan, a prominent player from Germany, played a pivotal role in Manchester City’s triumphs. His contributions proved vital in securing victories, particularly in the latter stages of the season.
At 32 years of age, Ilkay Gundogan played a crucial part in Manchester City’s Premier League, Champions League, and FA Cup victories. Displaying exceptional skills, he participated in 51 matches, scoring 11 goals and assisting in seven others. Notably, Gundogan netted twice against Manchester United in the FA Cup final.
Contract Negotiations and Potential Suitors
Starting from January, when Gundogan entered the final six months of his contract, he gained the freedom to engage in discussions with foreign teams. Currently, it is rumored that both Arsenal and Barcelona are actively pursuing his signature.
Although Manchester City attempted to secure Gundogan’s services for an extended period due to his outstanding performances towards the end of the season, they were unable to reach an agreement, primarily due to divergent views regarding the contract duration. As a result, Gundogan was listed among the players dropped by the club, but ongoing talks suggest that discussions are ongoing behind the scenes.
Barcelona’s Interest and Alternative Targets
Barcelona has reportedly offered Ilkay Gundogan a three-year contract, while Manchester City, despite their treble-winning success, has only presented a one-year deal with the possibility of an extension. With Sergio Busquets’ impending departure, Barcelona manager Xavi has identified Ilkay Gundogan as a top target for the midfield.
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After an illustrious seven-year tenure at Etihad, Ilkay Gundogan is contemplating a move away from Manchester City, although he has yet to make a definitive decision regarding his future.
Guardiola’s first acquisition in 2016, Gundogan has made 304 appearances for Manchester City, scoring an impressive 60 goals and assisting in 40 others. Last season, he assumed the captaincy from Fernandinho, accumulating a remarkable total of 14 honors, including five Premier League titles, four EFL Cups, two FA Cups, two Community Shields, and the 2022-23 Champions League.
Barcelona’s Pursuit and Arsenal’s Contingency Plan
Barcelona appears to be the club displaying the greatest interest in securing Ilkay Gundogan’s services, whereas Arsenal is reportedly considering a potential trade involving Declan Rice from West Ham United. Nevertheless, Xavi’s team is formulating backup plans in case they are unable to acquire the German international.
Alternative Target: Alex Baena
Should their pursuit of Ilkay Gundogan prove unsuccessful, Barcelona is said to have turned their attention to Alex Baena, a talented 21-year-old forward from Villarreal. Baena enjoyed an impressive season, contributing to his team’s goal tally with 12 strikes and six assists in 48 matches.
It is worth noting that Baena was involved in an altercation with Federico Valverde of Real Madrid during a La Liga match in April, although he denied making any inappropriate comments about Valverde’s daughter, who was reportedly pregnant at the time.