As the Treble-winning captain clinched a move to Barcelona, Ilkay Gundogan stated that Pep Guardiola thought the pair would leave Manchester City together.
The 32-year-old was Guardiola’s first acquisition at City and leaves the Premier League champions as a legend after a string of era-defining goals, including the legendary volley against rivals Manchester United in the FA Cup final in May.
City sought to keep Gundogan at the Etihad Stadium but refused to grant him a two-year contract, whilst Barcelona agreed to a deal that might go until 2026.
‘One of the most difficult conversations I had to make was to Pep, telling him I was leaving,’ Gundogan recalled. ‘All I could say was thank you. Not only for the season or the trophies but for putting me here in the first place.
‘I will never forget how worried I was when I damaged my knee at the conclusion of the season with Dortmund [in 2016] and had to have surgery because I was afraid City might drop out of the deal for me. until Pep called me and stated that they will wait until long it takes.
‘I guess Pep was hoping we’d come to City together and go together, but I know he understands my decision. I’m sure it helps that I attend his boyhood club.’
Guardiola, who is presently on vacation with his family in Egypt, has two years left on his contract and is now entrusted with reshaping a group that will need new energy next season.
Mateo Kovacic’s £25 million move from Chelsea is expected to be finalized this week, and RB Leipzig defender Josko Gvardiol is a top target.
Al-Hilal in Saudi Arabia is interested in both Bernardo Silva and Riyad Mahrez. Aymeric Laporte may return to Spain. Declan Rice’s condition is being closely monitored by City.