Ilkay Gundogan has been issued an ultimatum by Borussia Dortmund: commit long-term or leave in the summer.
The 25-year-old German midfielder has long been a target for Manchester City, and with only 12 months remaining on his contract looks unlikely to remain at the club.
Gundogan has only signed one season contract extensions in recent years but has been told in no uncertain terms that he must decide on his long-term plans. Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke has suggested that he still has a future at the club but must make a decision quickly.
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“There are two options, which we have discussed with Ilkay for a while,” Watzke told local newspaper the Ruhr Nachrichten, as per The Mirror. “Either he leaves or he stays and extends his contract, but it must be long-term.”
Reports had indicated that Gundogan was close to agreeing a £25 million deal to move to the Etihad Stadium but a dislocated knee – which rules him out of Euro 2016 and the beginning of the new season – has slowed progress.
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“I have spoken to him, he’s very down after another serious injury,” Watzke added. “He knows we’ll stand by him.”
The ultimatum is likely to move things along after years of transfer speculation, particularly given that Dortmund are not willing to risk letting their star midfielder leave on a free transfer in 2017.
Man City are in dire need of reinforcements in central midfield. Yaya Toure is likely to be surplus to requirements under the Guardiola regime whilst a poor domestic campaign has left many questioning the strength of the Fernando and Fernandinho partnership.
Gundogan’s departure would be a huge blow for Dortmund manager Thomas Tuchel, who has already lost Mats Hummels this week to rivals Bayern Munich. Watzke, however, seemed sympathetic to Hummels’ predicament in the same interview with Ruhr Nachrichten.
"It's a pity that Mats leaves," he said. "It's a special situation, because he is our captain and an icon.
“I’ve built a great relationship with Mats over the years. I saw how torn he was over a long period.
"Mats didn’t make it easy for himself, but in the end I have to accept that private matters tipped the scale into Bayern’s favour.”
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