Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has this afternoon provided a brief update on the club’s long-term plans for Ilkay Gundogan.
28-year-old central midfielder Gundogan has been plying his trade at the Etihad since the summer of 2016, when he made the move to the Premier League from Borussia Dortmund.
And the German international has since gone on to endure a somewhat his-and-miss stint in Manchester.
Gundogan’s debut campaign with City was cut short in December of 2016, after a crucial ligament rupture saw the gifted midfielder sidelined until the preceding summer.
Last season proved considerably more fruitful for the Bochum youth product, with Gundogan having appeared in 30 Premier League outings. However, significantly, only half of these came as starts, with Pep Guardiola having generally opted for the likes of Fernandinho, Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva when it mattered most.
And the current campaign has seen a similar trend emerge once more. Of the Sky Blues’ 21 Premier League outings to this point, Gundogan has started just 9.
Nevertheless, though, despite his struggles to hold down a consistent starting berth in the City XI, Pep Guardiola has this afternoon assured that Gundogan remains an integral part of his plans.
The 29-time capped international was lauded for his recent cup performances versus Rotherham and Burton Albion, during which Gundogan filled in for the injured Fernandinho at the base of City’s midfield.
The midfield all-rounder even managed to rack up an incredible 4 assists during the Citizens’ demolition of Rotherham:
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) January 6, 2019
‘His quality is incredible’
As such, when questioned on Gundogan’s contract situation (the midfielder’s current deal is set to expire next summer) during a press conference this afternoon, Pep Guardiola was quick to ensure that the Premier League champions fully intend to tie the German down to a new deal:
‘He knows what we want, but it’s in our hands.’
The City boss was also keen to lavish praise on Gundogan for his recent performances:
‘Gundogan played the last two games [against Rotherham and Burton Albion] like a holding midfielder. He had more space than usual. But he was so clever. He made an incredible assist and a lot of passes before the finish.’
‘His quality is incredible. We knew that.’
‘Unfortunately, the first season was a long injury, like [Benjamin] Mendy last season – and when he’s fit, he’s an incredible player.’
‘He can play that holding midfield role. He has the quality and the vision to pass. When he’s close to the box, he arrives in the right tempo and the right moment to score a goal – the goal from Kevin [De Bruyne versus Burton] was quite similar. He’s a fantastic player.’
‘I know the players and the quality’
Finally, Guardiola confirmed that City have no intention of dipping into the transfer market this month, with Gundogan’s recent showings proof that his side are not in need of midfield reinforcements:
‘When we need a creative player in that position, I don’t think you can find one player in Europe who is more clear in their passing than Gundogan and we have it.’
‘That’s why in the transfer window when you ask me [if City will strengthen] and I say no it’s because I know the players and the quality and know exactly what they can give us until the end of the season.’