It was an Olympic Gold medal back-paddling, but after all Ilkay Gündogan extended his deal until 2017 with Borussia Dortmund. The play maker was stated on the club’s official page: “The first days of the season preparations are behind us and it’s great fun to work with the team again. I’m relieved to finally have clarity and to be able to continue playing football for Borussia Dortmund. Now all the attention lies on the season preparation, since we want to attack again come August.” The words might appear a bit hypocritical, considering his wish to play elsewhere – otherwise the play maker would have committed to the club for more than just a season.
Only a few weeks ago, it was almost certain that Ilkay Gündogan would leave Borussia Dortmund during this transfer period. The club announced that the player wouldn’t prolong his until 2016 valid contract. Dortmund Boss Hans-Joachim Watzke made clear that they had no intentions to let the midfielder leave without chasing in on him to avoid another ‘Lewandowski-situation’.
Yet, suddenly the situation has turned inside out. The big offers for Gündogan failed to materialize, although FC Bayern, Manchester United and FC Barcelona showed interest – but apparently not much more beyond that. Too high seem the wage demands and the risk to pay the price for the 2013 version of Ilkay Gündogan in the summer of 2015. Unsurprisingly the midfielder struggled to find his form in a struggling BVB side after being sidelined for 14 months. After playing almost a whole season, it didn’t went without notice that it is still a long way for the German international to reach the world class level he so consistently performed on before his woeful injury.
It’s no secret the Gündogan had the intention to leave Borussia Dortmund in 2014, but due to his injury his career did not go as straight forward as he initially had planned. Adding a year to his deal that ran until 2015 was hardly a commitment, rather than simply postponing the departure. Now Gündogan has done the same trick twice. His father and agent Ilhan Gündogan was quoted by Süddeutsche Zeitung: “Dortmund is an option again. A lot speaks for it, as it will be easier für Ilkay to find back to his old level in familiar and comfortable surroundings.” His manager also revealed, that Gündogan and Thomas Tuchel were in contact. Tuchel’s ideas are apparently intriguing enough for “Ilkay to consider it.”
And indeed it makes a lot of sense for the 24 year old to extend his stint at BVB. Arriving at one of the biggest European clubs not being on top of his game might turn out to be very harmful to his career – Nuri Sahin is the perfect example, who arrived at Real Madrid with a knee injury and failed to make his time at the Santiago Bernabeu worthwhile.
And as Borussia Dortmund missed out on their prime target Johannes Geis from Mainz 05, who went for 10€ million to rivals FC Schalke, the outset is a different one. It’s hard to say, how far Gündogan’s unfortunate gamble and Geis snubbing a move to BVB for a chaotic Schalke side are connected, but either way the signature of Geis is handy business for the Royalblues and bad news for Dortmund, since Geis would have been a suitable fit for their midfield.
Equipping Gündogan with another one year deal is also a sensible choice by Borussia Dortmund. IN the hope, that he will regain his old strength under Thomas Tuchel and bring in a lot of money when he eventually leaves for FC Barcelona or otherwise. Especially in respect of Nuri Sahin’s protracting knee injury. With a full season preparation and new input, Gündogan can become the ruler of Dortmund’s midfield again. Jürgen Klopp has emphasized it again and again in the last season, that the long injury has taken its toll on the play maker – but also that he is too young to not regain his top form eventually.
Yet, a lot of Dortmund fans would have liked to see Gündogan leave rather sooner than later, as the player didn’t pledge his eternal love to the club, but is still seeking a transfer in the mid-term. His dealings on the transfer market and eventual back-paddling haven’t made him a darling on the social media platforms, but it’s rather a reflection of the discrepancy between the reality of football business and the romanticized perspective, that football fans have on their club.
Now, that the ink has dried we can only hope, that Ilkay finds his mojo as soon as possible, but if he does, it will be great to see him play another season in a black and yellow shirt.