The Manchester City fans in the Transfer Tavern are well accustomed to rumours linking their club with new acquisitions, but the latest rumour to emerge concerns the sale of a key player, namely Ilkay Gundogan.
According to reports in The Sun, Barcelona are looking for a new central midfielder to replace Andres Iniesta and they have identified Gundogan as a primary target. City have spent the majority of the summer chasing the signing of Jorginho to bolster their relatively sparse midfield options, so there’s no doubt they will be reluctant to offload the German international to the Catalan giants.
Although European rivals have been unable or unwilling to bid for Man City players in recent years, the lure of Barcelona may ultimately prove too strong for Gundogan to resist, and if that proves to be the case then Guardiola should not stand in his way. The 27-year-old midfielder is undoubtedly a silky talent who is a pleasure to watch at times, but there are question marks over his fitness and whether he possesses a big-game mentality.
Gundogan has struggled with injury problems throughout his career and, although it appears he has put his injury problems behind him for now, another major setback could leave City in a precarious position. City did not endure too many negative moments last season, but their rare poor showings often coincided with mediocre performances from Gundogan – most notably during City’s 3-0 Champions League drubbing at Anfield.
With that in mind, Guardiola should consider the possibility of selling him this summer if an offer of £50 million or more comes in for his services, but only on the condition that he can sign Real Madrid’s Mateo Kovacic (valued at £27 million by transfermarkt) to replace him. The 24-year-old Croatia international is set to feature for his country at the World Cup this summer in a formidable midfield line-up, and Guardiola should be keeping a close eye on his progress.
It’s not a phrase which should be thrown around lightly, but there’s no doubt Kovacic is a complete midfielder with all the attributes to perform exceptionally within a box-to-box midfield role. There are very few players in world football who can match the level of tenacity, aggression, technical quality and intelligent positional play which Kovacic has regularly demonstrated in recent years.
However, he struggled to break into the first-team at Los Blancos last season due to heavy competition for places, so a move to the Etihad will certainly carry a heavy weight of appeal this summer. His playing style is well-aligned with what Guardiola seeks from his midfield players and there’s no doubt he would become a glittering success at City, so he should be at the top of their priority list if Gundogan eventually departs.
Man City fans – thoughts? Let us know below!
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