The German midfielder was the destructor-in-chief against Barcelona on Tuesday evening in the Champions League
Ilkay Gundogan was in fine form on Tuesday against Barcelona in the Champions League, scoring twice in the 3-1 victory for the home side. The German midfielder’s complete all-round display in the middle of park was exactly what Barcelona were missing in their midfield.
The former Borussia Dortmund midfielder was ever-present on both ends of the pitch for Manchester City, acting as a passing option when a City player was pressed down in their own half and working hard to recover the ball when not is possession, while making cleverly unmarked late runs into Barcelona’s penalty box when the home team countered.
The away side dearly missed someone who could link up the attack and defence as well as Gundogan did for the English club.
And now, Spanish outlet and Barcelona mouthpiece, Mundo Deportivo, claim the German international could well have been playing for the away side on Tuesday night. The report states the Blaugranas had an agreement in principle with the player in the summer of 2014, with even minute details like length of the contract and wages agreed upon between both the parties after long negotiations with the then Barcelona Director of Football, Andoni Zubizarrreta.
However, Ilkay was recovering from a serious back injury at the time, and after a few reviews, Barcelona’s doctors felt the player risked from a recurrence from the injury which put the deal the on the back-burner, even though the Spanish giants’ coaching staff were very keen to sign the midfielder.
A year later in 2015, Barcelona again got in touch with player, with every detail including an agreement with Gundogan, new manager Thomas Tuchel and Borussia Dortmund agreed upon.
This time Barcelona’s Dr. Ricard Pruna also gave the go ahead for the player after thorough examination but as fate would have it, the Spanish club were hit a transfer ban which put the deal off for the second time running.
This meant Luis Enrique gave the green light to sign Turkish midfielder Arda Turan for €34 million, as the player agreed to not being formally being registered with the club until the ban was over in January 2016.
Meanwhile, Gundogan suffered another serious set-back, this time dislocating his knee-cap in May, 2016. There were some rumors linking Barcelona to the player in the summer, but it seemed the knee injury meant the interest was never concrete. The player at the time had only one more year left on his contract with the German club.
Considering the midfielder’s injury concerns but favourable contract situation, it was always going to be high-risk-high-reward type of a transfer. But a gamble which Manchester City were willing to take even when others backed off.
If Ilkay Gundogan can maintain his fitness, Manchester City’s midfield will be sorted for years to come, with the German still only 25 years old. Having been signed for €24 million, a paltry amount for a player of his caliber, the deal could turn out to be one of the biggest bargains for the club. Barcelona’s loss could well be Manchester City’s big gain.