After quite a few weeks of constant speculation about what the future of Manchester City captain Ilkay Gundogan would hold, it has now been confirmed that despite ongoing talks about a short contract extension at the Etihad Stadium, the player has now been offered better terms by Spanish giants Barcelona, and he will therefore now make the move to La Liga when his existing contract comes to a natural end this summer.
It was known that City manager Pep Guardiola was keen for 32 year old Gundogan to stay at the club and it is believed that their owners were prepared to offer him a 12 month contract, with a 12 month option on top to keep him with them, especially in light of how integral he has proven to be in City’s recent success, not least their Treble success in the 2022/23 campaign – where he played 51 games across all competitions, scoring eleven times. That success should certainly drive the sales of Manchester City tickets for the coming season.
His worth to them was no more obvious than when chasing Arsenal down and stripping them of their advantage, the German international contributed six goals in the final seven games to secure both the title, as well as the FA Cup over arch rivals Manchester United.
However, Barcelona were happy to reportedly agree a far more lucrative three year deal, which Gundogan believed was the better option for him at his age and this stage of his career, and moving to Spain obviously affords him the added benefit of having a new and fresh challenge, particularly after all the success he has tasted across his career.
Having originally joined City from Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund for £20 million back in the summer of 2016, the 67 capped international now leaves them having made 304 appearances for the club, scoring 60 goals, across all competitions.
On top of that, during his spell in Manchester he has won 14 trophies in total – five Premier League titles, one Champions League, two FA Cups, four League Cups and two Community Shields.
He definitely leaves a legacy at City, and many will remember his service alongside the likes of David Silva, Vincent Kompany and Yaya Toure for the role he played. But it is not unfair to say, that despite having plenty of good years left in him yet before he finally hangs up his boots, he is a player who will not improve and City’s mantra in recent years has been in finding players that could be improved and shaped – particularly under Guardiola – and additional football tickets will be sold based on who else they bring in.
The confirmed capture of Chelsea’s Mateo Kovacic will go some way towards replacing Gundogan given his own experience in the game, and he naturally has a few more years left in the tank, but also the reported chase of West Ham United’s Declan Rice is an interesting one here given his own age – and that rumour certainly pivots a bit with talk of a potential swap deal for Kalvin Phillips.
Fans will have to wait and see what the rest of the summer brings.