Ilkay Gundogan, a highly sought-after German international, joined Barcelona as a free agent on a three-year contract. The 32-year-old, who City wanted to keep, had interested parties in Saudi Arabia and Arsenal, but he left the Treble champions to play in La Liga on a two-year contract with an option to extend.
Barcelona added a seasoned midfielder to help Pedri and Gavi with his €400 million buyout clause. He and Robert Lewandowski will reconnect.
Gundogan’s two-goal double on the last day of the season helped City capture their fourth Premier League title. Gundogan lead City to just the second English treble—Premier League, FA Cup, and Champions League—scoring the FA Cup final’s opening goal 12 seconds in.
Gundogan chose La Liga over Saudi Arabia and Arsenal.
“If I was going to move, there is only one club in the world that made sense,” Gundogan told the Players’ Tribune. Or Barcelona.
That clothing was my childhood fantasy. I know I have a few more years at the top, and I want to assist Barcelona go back to where they belong. I’m eager to play under another manager I’ve liked and see my old pal Lewa again. Xavi and I discussed the project naturally. Our characters and gaming views are so similar.
I’m aware of Barcelona’s pressure. I like pressure. I adore challenging myself. I wanted a tough landing. I wanted a challenge. This following chapter is about it.”
City will struggle replacing Gundogan. The midfielder might adapt to Pep Guardiola’s needs tactically. He scored 38 goals in all competitions in the previous three years as a late-arriving runner into the penalty area.
Chelsea agreed to sell Mateo Kovacic to City for £30 million. The Croatian has many of Guardiola’s preferred traits, but he doesn’t score many goals. He won’t have Gundogan’s Premier League-winning leadership skills. Barcelona’s latest addition is “one of the world’s best midfielders of the last decade.” City’s wealth won’t help replace Gundogan.