Football: Gundogan swayed by Guardiola's philosophy

Gundogan, who can dictate pace and rhythm of games, is Man City manager's first signing

LONDON • Manchester City have announced the signing of Borussia Dortmund's Ilkay Gundogan, who becomes the first signing of Pep Guardiola's reign, for a fee believed to be around £20 million (S$39 million).

The midfielder dislocated a knee cap at the beginning of May and will miss Germany's Euro 2016 campaign, but City were satisfied by the 25-year-old's condition and eager to complete the deal early in the summer. The English football club say he is "recovering well" from the injury.

Gundogan, who has won 16 caps for Germany, scoring four goals, confirmed the news in a video posted on City's official Twitter feed.

"Hello City fans. You have been tweeting me for a long time and now I officially announce I am a Manchester City player. Hope to see you soon," said the German, whose Dortmund contract was due to expire in June next year.

He was part of Juergen Klopp's Dortmund side who won a domestic double in the 2011-12 season and reached the Champions League final in 2013, when they lost to German rivals Bayern Munich.

The midfielder said Guardiola's convincing philosophy was a key reason behind his decision to swop the Bundesliga for the English Premier League.

Ilkay Gundogan in action during a German Bundesliga match in January. The midfielder dislocated a knee cap in early May but Manchester City say he is recovering well from the injury.
Ilkay Gundogan in action during a German Bundesliga match in January. The midfielder dislocated a knee cap in early May but Manchester City say he is recovering well from the injury. PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

THE MOTIVATION

Guardiola asked me to go to Manchester and convinced me with his philosophy. I believe this is the right step for me at the moment.

ILKAY GUNDOGAN , German midfielder, on his decision to join Manchester City.

VERSATILE PERFORMER

Ilkay is an intelligent and versatile midfielder who can operate in a number of different roles. I think our supporters will enjoy his work ethic and technical ability.

TXIKI BEGIRISTAIN , City's director of football, on his club's new signing.

"After five successful years, my time in Dortmund is over," he said in a statement. "Special thanks to my coaches Juergen Klopp and Thomas Tuchel. I had a great time with them and advanced to a player of the German national team.

"When I learnt of Manchester City's interest, my heart was set on coming here and things have moved very quickly.

"The reason for my transfer is the great opportunity to join Pep Guardiola and Manchester City. Guardiola asked me to go to Manchester and convinced me with his philosophy. I believe this is the right step for me at the moment. Under his lead, I want to keep improving my skills as a football player."

Gundogan could fit perfectly in the heart of Guardiola's team. The Spaniard would want a City who are suited to his style compared to his predecessor Manuel Pellegrini's team, and there is a reason why Gundogan is the first player he signed.

The German was capable of dictating the pace and rhythm of matches by sitting deep in Dortmund's midfield, controlling the tempo and energy of the game.

Besides that, he was also the Bundesliga's seventh-most prolific passer. At one point, he was even ranked top before missing the last stretch of games in the season due to his injury and therefore dropping down the list.

Guardiola will hope that Gundogan can replicate his prowess for City, at the same time fitting in well with the manager's philosophy.

Speaking to City's website, Gundogan vowed to give everything to bring silverware to the Etihad Stadium. "I can promise the City fans I will give everything to help us win titles both in England and the Champions League. These are exciting times," he said. "I have my best years ahead of me and I think we can achieve great things together. I can't wait to begin this new chapter in my career."

THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 03, 2016, with the headline 'Swayed by Guardiola's philosophy'. Print Edition | Subscribe