Ilkay Gundogan is set to become a Manchester City player.
According to Spanish publication Sport, the Borussia Dortmund midfielder has told Barcelona, one of his many suitors, that he will become one of Pep Guardiola’s first signings when the new City boss arrives in the summer.
Barcelona and Manchester United have been long-term admirers of the German international and Gundogan’s rejection will come as a blow.
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German paper Bild (per the Mirror) reported that the 25-year-old had no intentions of signing a new deal at Dortmund - his current contract ends next summer - paving the way for a summer move.
A reunion with former Dortmund boss Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool was seen as a potential transfer given that Gundogan was a key factor in the side that won the Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal under Klopp in 2011-12.
But the most likely move was to Barcelona. Sport add that the two parties have been in regular contact since last summer, and at one point the midfielder was on the verge of signing for the Catalan giants.
However, Luis Enrique’s decision to prioritise the signing of Arda Turan caused talks with Gundogan to stall. They were expected to pick up again this summer but the player has apparently reached an agreement with City.
He will become one of the first players to join Guardiola’s revolution at the Premier League club. The Spaniard will take up the reins in June when his current deal with Bayern Munich expires.
Gundogan certainly won’t be the only player to arrive at the Etihad Stadium in the summer - the Guardian reported earlier in the month that the Spaniard will be given a £150 million budget to build his perfect team as City look to establish themselves among Europe’s elite.
Paul Pogba and John Stones are among those reportedly on Guardiola’s radar, per the Daily Mail. The respective Juventus and Everton stars will set the club back £130m but would outline their intentions to dominate the Premier League and compete with Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern in the Champions League.
Can't beat 'em? Join 'em
It’s a case of ‘if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em’ for Gundogan if he does sign for City. The industrious midfielder has had to sit back and watch Guardiola win two successive Bundesliga titles since arriving at Bayern in 2013 and the former Barcelona boss is on course to make it a hat-trick - the Bavarians have an eight point lead over Dortmund, having lost just once in 21 league games.
It’s set to be a summer of departures for Thomas Tuchel’s team - Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s 27-goal season has put the Dortmund striker at the top of many teams’ wish-list.
Gundogan emerged as one of the finest midfielders in Europe before suffering a back injury that ruled him out for more than a year in 2013. The setback forced him to miss Germany’s World Cup triumph two years ago but he’s back to his best and eyeing a big move.