Interviews

Let’s Talk: İlkay Gündoğan with Lewis Ambrose

“All signs point to yes”. Of all the many midfielders linked with City recently, Borussia Dortmund midfielder İlkay Gündoğan looks the most certain to join Pep Guardiola at the Etihad this summer. After half a decade at the Westfalenstadion, 25-year-old Gündoğan looks set to move abroad this summer, with multiple newspapers reporting a likely deal. His uncle was spotted with Txiki Begiristain recently, adding yet more fuel to the fire.

To learn more about Gündoğan, we spoke to Lewis Ambrose, a Borussia Dortmund fan who writes about the Bundesliga for Squawka and appears on the Borussia Dortmund podcast, The Yellow Wall Pod. Lewis also edits Arsenal fansite, the Daily Cannon.

Can you describe what kind of midfielder İlkay Gündoğan is? I know there a few misconceptions about what sort of role he plays for Borussia Dortmund and Germany.

Gündogan is really like a box-to-box playmaker. Dropping deep to collect the ball near the defence, he is happy to receive possession and keep it moving but he’s much more than that and prefers to drive the team on. When pressed he always finds his way out of danger and is fairly quick – something people don’t appreciate thanks to his slightly odd shape.

Certainly not a traditional defensive midfielder, he’s superb at picking holes in the opposition’s midfield and defence, and is the man Dortmund look to in tricky games.

For City fans, I’d say Gündogan is like a more refined and less powerful version of Yaya Touré.

I think we’ve all seen the photograph of City transfer executive Txiki Begiristain and Gundogan’s uncle Ilhan Gündoğan in Amsterdam last month. Do you expect İlkay Gündoğan to leave in the summer?

Definitely. Last summer he was interested in leaving but only for one of Barcelona, Real Madrid or Bayern Munich. None of them came in for him so he agreed a one-year extension in Dortmund. The club won’t offer that to him again so he’ll either be sold or sign a long-term deal with BVB. With Pep Guardiola heading to Eastlands it looks like Gündogan will be tempted to follow.

Gundogan was part of that Dortmund side that came to the Etihad in 2012 and utterly bossed us. That game was also before his year-long back injury. How has bounced back from that set back and can he still fulfill his potential?

Last season was tricky. He came back in October and was thrust into the team having not played for over a year. Initially his performances were ok but they suffered as the season went on and fatigue, as well as Dortmund’s form as a club, took a toll on him.

This year, with a full pre-season under his belt, Gündogan looks reinvigorated. He has a lot of responsibility in Tuchel’s system and has lived up to all expectations. He’s back to his best.

Do you think Pep would like to bring Gündogan in? What would he add to this stale Manchester City midfield?

I think he absolutely would, he’s perfect for Pep as he offers a little of everything but without sacrificing quality. Gündogan is positionally intelligent and fairly good defensively but his real strengths are on the ball: something City will have a lot of in the next few seasons.

A superb dribbler, he can add drive and energy to the team while also being incredibly reliable in possession and rarely wasting a pass. He’s exactly the type of player I can see Guardiola building a midfield around.

Cheers Lewis, thanks for coming on.

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