It’s official. The clubs announced on Thursday that Ilkay Gündogan will be a Manchester City player after his five-year stint in Dortmund. BVB will receive a reported €30 million fee for the injured German international, who had just one year left on his contract. But the day Ilkay Gündogan leaves will always be a sad one for Borussia Dortmund.
When Ilkay Gündogan joined Borussia Dortmund in 2011 for 4.5€ million from FC Nürnberg he arrived with the burden of replacing Nuri Sahin, who just left to Real Madrid.
The shy Gelsenkirchen-born 20-year-old received little trust by the Dortmund fans to replace Sahin, who was an integral part in Dortmund’s first Championship win under Jürgen Klopp. Sahin was BVB’s center of creativity, the midfield hub, who pulled the strings of almost every attack of the Black and Yellows.
It took Gündogan more than half a season to find his feet at Dortmund. Some say his last-minute goal in overtime of the DFB Cup semi-final against Greuther Fürth in 2012 was the ignition for Ilkay Gündogan to really take off.
At the Westfalenstadion, Gündogan developed into a world-class central midfielder, easily surpassing Nuri Sahin by a stretch. Gündogan learned to use his technique to maintain possession in midfield in tight spaces.
He likes to use a simple turn on the ball to change the angle of his play and create options for him that weren’t there before. It can be all be summed up under pressing-resistance, which he unites with another trait on a world-class level.
It is the creative spark in Gündogan and his strategic mind that allows him to play spectacular Hollywood passes to unlock opposing defences. Whether that would be a short pass in the foot of the striker, a dink into the back of the defence or long ball across the field to unleash his attackers for a counter-attack – the German international has everything a modern number 8 needs in his repertoire and he doesn’t fall short on his defensive duties either.
So if you’re Pep Guardiola and you want to introduce your possession based style to the Premiere League, Ilkay Gündogan would be your first option to build your dynasty on.
“The reason for my transfer is the possibility to play under Pep Guardiola at Manchester City. It was him who convinced me that this is the right move for me. Under his tutelage I can make the next step in my development,” Gündogan wrote on his personal Facebook account.
SID/WAZ quoted him: “It is no secret that Guardiola’s possession-based football suits my qualities. I believe that great things can happen at Manchester City.”
After Mario Götze it is another player that names Guardiola as the main reason to leave Borussia Dortmund (hiring the Spanish coach would of course solve that problem). Losing Gündogan is obviously the bigger blow, especially when a centre-back with a world-class build-up play in Mats Hummels just went out the door as well.
But Dortmund can thank Gündogan not only for his great services that were crucial in BVB’s double-winning season and a run to the Champions League final, but also for not leaving the club empty-handed.
After all the 25-year-old was already on his way out in 2014 and was only stopped by a complicated back-injury that kept him out for the entire season. Gündogan extended for another year in 2014 and did the same again in 2015 when a transfer did not materialise.
“I’m happy that despite my injury both clubs could find an agreement and that Borussia Dortmund receives compensation,” Gündogan wrote on his Facebook page.
BVB fans often forget that their prized midfielder could have left the club as a free agent this summer, but made sure the Westphalians would still receive a fair amount of money for him. According to SID, former clubs 1. FC Nürnberg (€4.5m) and VfL Bochum (€0.5m) will receive a stake of the reported €30m fee.
So we can only wish Ilkay farewell and hope that he will quickly recover from yet another horrible injury that hinders him from attending another major tournament and possibly the Balon d’or shortlist.
For Borussia Dortmund though it will remain a tough endeavour to find a suitable replacement for Ilkay Gündogan, who will leave a big void next season.