Manchester United have been put on alert over the possible signing of long-term target Ilkay Gundogan after the Borussia Dortmund star revealed his desire for a transfer and named the Premier League as a possible destination.
Gundogan has only just returned from a 14-month lay off following a back injury suffered at the height of his form, when a number of clubs, including Manchester United and Real Madrid, were keeping tabs on him.
"I’d like to play in Spain or for one of the big teams in England"
Real Madrid even went so far as to make a bid to land him, but the 24-year-old has revealed that Borussia Dortmund blocked the move from happening. The Old Trafford club's transfer officials will be enthused by his words after making his latest comeback in a 2-2 draw with Paderborn at the weekend.
Gundogan explained that he was happy with life at the Westfalenstadion, but that he does not see himself there for the entirety of his career. La Liga and the Premier League were the two competitions cited, but any club interested had better be of the more prestigious variety.
"Real Madrid made an offer for me but my club refused it,” he is quoted as saying by the Manchester Evening News.
"At the time I had two more seasons on my contract. But also, my injury wrecked everything. I couldn’t play for 14 months. Now I want to look forward and make up for lost time with sporting success.
"Playing outside Germany is one of my big goals. If one day I leave here, I’d like to play in Spain or for one of the big teams in England."
Louis van Gaal saw his side emerge 2-1 victors over Arsenal at the weekend, but in reality they should have been brushed aside easily by Arsene Wenger's men in a performance that was typical of what has been a poor start to the season.
Can't Hide from Deficiencies
While defensive injuries are seriously hampering their solidity, midfield has also been an area where the Red Devils have struggled to impose themselves. Keeping possession effectively has been an issue and Gundogan provides options there.
He was a key part of the double-winning Dortmund side from three seasons ago, which played Jürgen Klopp's brand of fast-paced hectic pressing and passing. Gundogan is the modern archetypal holding midfield player; not necessarily a destroyer, but tactically aware enough to shield his back line effectively.
As for on the ball, he is the product of a German youth system that is churning out technically gifted footballers by the bucketload every year. He has a terrific range of passing and seems to know exactly where his teammates are situated at all times.
If Manchester United do decide to move forward with a bid for him, fighting off Real Madrid may prove to be too great a task. Especially with the current state of Van Gaal's team, while Carlo Ancelotti's league leaders in Spain appear to go from strength to strength,