Manchester City fans will be sorry to see Ilkay Gundogan leave the club. While the German international has not been a regular starter in the Premier League for the last two seasons, he’s scored some vitally important goals in his club’s quest for silverware.
As Gundogan prepares to depart for Barcelona, City have already made plans to secure his replacement, but they will forever be grateful for his contribution at the Etihad.
Club and Player Move on
Pep Guardiola will be hoping that the switch between Ilkay Gundogan and new signing Mateo Kovacic will be a seamless transition. While Croatian international Kovacic is widely seen as a direct replacement, there is one potential issue as he signs on.
Gundogan was a genuine attacking threat while Kovacic scored just four goals in his 142 Premier League games for Chelsea. Despite that potential concern, City remain clear favorites for every competition in which they are entered, anyone into sports betting online, will find that the markets put them at the top in the Premier League, FA Cup, EFL Cup and Champions League.
It’s a positive endorsement, but will Gundogan’s departure hamper City’s progress?
Ilkay Gundogan joined Manchester City from Borussia Dortmund in June 2016. A serious injury restricted his appearances in that first season, but he recovered to become a fans’ favorite at the Etihad.
The German midfielder began to earn a reputation as a ‘big game player’. He may not have always shone in regulation league matches, but he reserved his best performances when it mattered most.
In his final two years at City, there are two games that really highlight this theory. On the final day of the 2021/22 league campaign, the club needed to beat Aston Villa at home to secure another EPL title.
It seemed to be a routine fixture, but City were in trouble at 2-0 down with just twenty minutes left to play. Gundogan stepped forward with a vital double strike, either side of a goal from Rodri which sealed a remarkable 3-2 win.
Fast forward to the 2023 FA Cup final as Manchester City faced what looked to be a tough test against old rivals Manchester United. The Red Devils had found some form at the end of the season, but City nerves were calmed as Ilkay Gundogan scored the fastest FA Cup final goal of all time after just 13 seconds.
The German added another in the second half as City secured a 2-1 victory.
While he wasn’t brought to the Etihad just to score goals, Ilkay Gundogan leaves City with a healthy strike rate. In 304 games for the club across all competitions, he found the net on 60 occasions.
Towards the end of his Manchester City career, many of those appearances came from the substitutes’ bench. At the age of 32, Gundogan felt the need to be playing regular football, and that has led to his impending departure to Barcelona.
Arsenal had been interested in the player, but City should now be wary of selling to a direct Premier League rival. Spanish football fans have much to look forward to and, by avoiding the Gunners, Gundogan retains that fans’ favorite status at the Etihad.
A Manchester City Hero
The fact that City manager Pep Guardiola wanted Ilkay Gundogan to stay at the club is a clear indication of his value to the side. Towards the end of last season, it was reported that Pep had asked the club’s owners to do ‘everything they could’ to keep him at The Etihad.
Following Gundogan’s Player of the Match performance in the FA Cup final, the manager remained hopeful that a contract extension would be agreed.
“He plays exceptional’, " Guardiola said. “Hopefully we can finish in a good way. The season he has done is exceptional.”
Top football pundits have also praised the player, but Guardiola’s words echo how highly he was regarded at Manchester City. Speaking on the club’s official website, Pep stated that Gundogan always gave 100% and that he was a joy to manage.
A Sad Farewell
It’s clear that Ilkay Gundogan will be missed at Manchester City. Aside from those important goals, his assists and link up play made him a complete player in midfield. Mateo Kovacic has a tough act to follow, and his subdued scoring stats will need to be improved at the Etihad.
Gundogan now takes his talent to Barcelona where he should get more gametime across the season. It’s a shame to see him go, but a player of his quality deserves to be involved more extensively than he was at Manchester City.
At the age of 32, this is a good move for the player as he joins another major European side. As he departs, he can be certain that his contribution at City will never be forgotten.