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In Focus: Why Gundogan ticks all the boxes for Barca
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Adam Drury
Ilkay Gundogan has left Manchester City for Barcelona
Ilkay Gundogan has left Manchester City for Barcelona

Ilkay Gundogan is exactly the type of signing Barcelona should be making.

The midfielder arrives at the Camp Nou on a free transfer after a stellar seven-year stint at Manchester City, where he most recently captained the Citizens to a memorable Treble.

We take a look at why Gundogan ticks all the boxes for the LaLiga champions.


The primary perk of this signing is that Gundogan arrives for no transfer fee.

Though the deal is sure to include signing-on fees and bonuses, recruiting a world-class talent without shelling out millions is a timely coup after years of financial mismanagement.

The Catalans have spent over £100million on each of Philippe Coutinho, Ousmane Dembele and Antoine Griezmann since 2017, deals which ultimately resulted in them having to sacrifice Lionel Messi.

Gundogan is arguably the best midfielder they have signed since Cesc Fabregas — and a show of overdue prudence.

Seize the moment

Ilkay Gundogan was impressive for Manchester City last season
Ilkay Gundogan was impressive for Manchester City last season

The departures of Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba leave a leadership vacuum at the Camp Nou that Gundogan has been signed to fill.

Not only is the ex-Borussia Dortmund technician a serial winner but he relishes making defining contributions in big matches. 

He scored three braces in the last seven games of last season, including a memorable double in the FA Cup final, and netted twice as City came from 2-0 down to beat Aston Villa 3-2 to win the Premier League title on the last day of the 2021-22 season.

Upon his Etihad exit, former team-mate Kevin De Bruyne said: "He's been incredible in the seven years he's been here. In the big moments he steps up. He isn't afraid."

Pep Guardiola simply said: "Without him, we couldn't win the Premier League."

That knack for dragging his team over the line will now benefit Barca.

Master of all trades

There is no midfield role that Gundogan did not play at City, with Guardiola using him to protect the defence, link the play and act as the team's chief goalscorer.

In the 2020-21 season, the German led City's scoring charts with 17 — including a sequence of 11 strikes in 15 appearances in the middle of the campaign — but was selected ahead of Fernandinho as the holding midfielder for the Champions League final against Chelsea.

And even from his conventional position last season, the 32-year-old would often drop deep next to Rodri one minute and pop up in the box the next.

New manager Xavi was also a master of midfield rotation and positional awareness, so the pair should work well together.

Ilkay Gundogan can play in multiple midfield roles
Ilkay Gundogan can play in multiple midfield roles

Extra option

Gundogan's versatility serves a second purpose of taking the heat off two of the best young midfielders in world football.

Pedri, 20, is recovering from the second serious hamstring injury of his career, an ominous sign for a player who was flogged at Euro 2020, the Olympics in Japan and the 2022 World Cup in between making 109 Barcelona appearances in three seasons.

His compatriot Gavi, meanwhile, has played 96 matches for the Blaugrana and made 21 appearances for Spain before his 19th birthday.

Barca need to take care of the pair and Gundogan — along with Frenkie de Jong, Franck Kessie and the potential signing of a Busquets replacement — should allow them to properly rest and rotate.


Manchester CityBarcelonaIlkay GuendoganPremier LeagueLaLiga
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