Borussia Dortmund have confirmed on their official Twitter feed that midfielder Ilkay Gundogan had elected against extending his contract, which naturally prompted a host of speculation over the talented German’s future.
— Borussia Dortmund (@BVB) April 30, 2015
Gundogan missed the whole of last season with a spinal compression, and has had a couple of niggly injuries this term as he recovers from such a long term absence, but when fit he is an exceptionally talented player.
The 24 year-old can be deployed as a deep-lying playmaker, a box-to-box midfielder or even in the number ten role, thanks to a superb combination of physical attributes, positional sense, technical skill and vision.
It’s in the holding role that the two strongest linked clubs in the Premier League could use his services.
Arsenal and Manchester United – both linked by the Daily Telegraph – each have an experienced player as first choice at the base of their midfield in Mikel Arteta and Michael Carrick respectively, and each has struggled for fitness in the current campaign.
Arteta has only been fit for 12 appearances for the Gunners’ first team in all competitions, while Carrick has managed just 20. For context, David De Gea has already played 40 games.
An injury crisis in the heart of his team helped Arsene Wenger stumble upon Francis Coquelin, who has been an unequivocal success, but the Telegraph state that the Gunners are still in the market for a more dynamic option.
For Man Utd, the need is more pressing.
In March, the Daily Mail unearthed statistics showing that Louis Van Gaal’s team average 2.2 points per game when Carrick starts, and 1.6 without him. Those figures extrapolated over the course of a full season would bring 83 points with Carrick, and 61 without – which would result in a 3rd or 7th place finish in the 2013-14 Premier League.
Like both Carrick and Arteta, Gundogan excels at breaking down opposition attacks, and his anticipation enables him to spot danger excellently.
A good example of this can be seen against Juventus earlier in the season. The Germany international wins the ball for his team, then some excellent one touch play hands the ball over to a team-mate who promptly loses it. Ever alert, Gundogan spots an opportunity to reclaim the ball once again, and Dortmund are set off on the attack.
The German is also wonderful at making himself some space in congested areas.
That can be seen in the below clip – again from earlier this season in the UEFA Champions League, with Galatasaray the opposition this time. Gundogan can be seen to turn brilliantly one way then the other, darting between the gap he has created between the two Gala midfielders.
He then has the composure and vision to spot a fine through ball, which Adrian Ramos finished emphatically.
Gundogan would be a fine asset to either Manchester United or Arsenal. With Borussia Dortmund confirming in their above tweet that the midfielder has only a year remaining on his deal, he could be a good value option in a tough summer transfer market.
The Telegraph report that a fee of around £20 million could be enough to prise Gundogan from Signal Iduna Park, and providing he is over his injury issues, that could be a fine deal.