Barcelona confirmed the signing of Ilkay Gundogan on Monday. The veteran midfielder is set to join the Catalan side for two seasons with an option for a third.
Barcelona beat out the likes of Manchester City, Arsenal and a bid from Saudi Arabia for the player’s services.
Leaving Manchester City was a difficult decision for Gundogan especially after winning a treble. Gundogan wrote an article in The Player’s Tribune bidding farewell to his now former team.
“Today is bittersweet. Goodbyes are never easy, but it’s even harder with this team,” Gundogan wrote. “When I had to break the news to the boys that I was leaving in our group chat, I was very emotional. I will miss all of them, honestly. But I am happy to say that I’m leaving here as a champion, and I have nothing but love for the club in my heart.”
Gundogan spent seven years with the Premier League champions after arriving there from Borussia Dortmund. The knock on him when he arrived was being injury prone but he managed to stay healthy throughout his tenure.
He had won it all with City except for the highly coveted Champions League. Perhaps its why he felt it was the right time to go after winning everything he could with the club.
He called it an “obsession” and recalled the final he lost in 2013 when Dortmund lost to Bayern Munich. He called back to the final they lost a couple of seasons ago against Chelsea and being left on the bench against Real Madrid the season before last.
Everything clicked both for City and Gundogan this season. While Pep Guardiola’s side started off slower than they would have hoped, they shifted into gear at the right time, overcoming Arsenal in the league and the likes of Bayern Munich and Real Madrid on the way to beating Inter Milan.
Again, it’s why he probably felt more comfortable in deciding to leave. There was no better ending.
His next destination is well-known to Guardiola as Gundogan is joining Barcelona.
“If I was going to move, there is only one club in the world that made sense, “Gundogan wrote. “It was Barcelona or nothing. Ever since I was a little kid, I dreamed of wearing that shirt some day. I am confident that I have a few more years left at the highest level, and I just want to help bring Barcelona back to where they deserve to be.
“It will be a reunion with my old friend Lewa [Lewandoswki], and I’m excited to play under another manager who I have admired for a long time. When Xavi and I talked about the project, it just seemed so natural. I see so many similarities between us as characters and in the way we see the game.”
Robert Lewandowski has said something similar about Xavi Hernandez.
Gundogan is going to be an important player for Xavi as he brings incredible quality on the pitch as well as leadership skills.
Despite winning LaLiga last season, Barcelona are still a work-in-progress. Though their rebuild could be sped up with Gundogan’s arrival.
Making a deep run in the Champions League is going to be one of Barcelona’s main objectives next season. Both Xavi and the locker room believe Gundogan is a signing to achieve just that. Joining a midfield already comprised of Frenkie de Jong, Gavi and Pedri is going to be a dream for the club and its supporters.