Ilkay Gundogan: Manchester City captain to join Barcelona on free transfer

Manchester City captain Ilkay Gundogan will join Barcelona on a free transfer when his contract expires at the end of this month.

Gundogan, 32, was offered a new contact by City but is thought to have negotiated a more lucrative three-year deal with the Spanish champions.

City boss Pep Guardiola was keen to keep Gundogan, who was integral to the club winning the Treble this season.

The Germany midfielder played 51 games in 2022-23, scoring 11 goals.

Gundogan’s influence was crucial in the closing weeks of City’s season with six goals in his final seven games – including a double in the 2-1 FA Cup final win over Manchester United.

He played 90 minutes in the Champions League final as City beat Inter Milan 1-0 to add to their Premier League and FA Cup triumphs this season.

Guardiola said earlier this month City director Txiki Begiristain was “working” to keep Gundogan and he “hoped he can be successful”.

Gundogan’s departure follows City agreeing a £30m deal with Chelsea to sign Croatia midfielder Mateo Kovacic.

Gundogan joined City from Borussia Dortmund for a reported £20m in 2016 and made 304 appearances for the club, scoring 60 goals.

During his seven years at Etihad Stadium he has won 14 trophies – five Premier League titles, one Champions League, two FA Cups, four Carabao Cups and two Community Shields.

He was made club captain at the start of 2022-23 following the departure of Brazil midfielder Fernandinho.

‘Gundogan will be remembered like Silva, Kompany and Toure at City’

Analysis by Simon Stone, BBC Sport

Ultimately, it has come down to simple economics from Manchester City’s point of view.

Yes, they wanted Gundogan to stay. Yes, Guardiola was unstinting in his praise of the German as the final weeks of an historic season.

But City did not want to keep Gundogan at any price.

They offered the German a one-year contract with the possibility of an extra season on top. Barcelona offered an additional year on top of that.

Gundogan is 32 and, while he was outstanding for City and has an awareness few can match, he is not going to get any better.

City, as Treble winners, are in a position of strength. Players want to play for Guardiola. The club can attract high-class talent and, in Kovacic, are on the brink of doing just that.

Gundogan will be fondly remembered at the club, just as David Silva, Yaya Toure and Vincent Kompany still are.

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