Manchester City vice-captain Ilkay Gundogan is reportedly set to leave the club after six years and multiple honours with a year left to run on his current deal with the Blues.
In an exclusive report in the Daily Mail, Mike Keegan has revealed that – against an amicable backdrop – Gundogan has been told he is free to find another club with an extension to his existing deal unlikely.
Keegan reports that the 31-year-old expects to be in the starting eleven every week and that those assurances cannot be guaranteed at the current Premier League champions.
It had been speculated in some quarters that the German's time at City was coming to an end owing to a persistent back issue, which was hindering the midfielder's ability to compete at the highest level – however, these suggestions remain unconfirmed at this present time, and it would appear based on this latest report that the player is keen to continue playing.
Should Gundogan leave, the club may find itself in the position of needing to recruit two new midfielders ahead of the new campaign, with a replacement for outgoing club captain Fernandinho also sought – but it could also give rise to more prominence in the midfield for either Jack Grealish or Phil Foden, with more minutes distributed to the likes of Raheem Sterling and Cole Palmer on the flanks in the process.
Promising academy midfielder James McAtee is also expected to take the next step in his development next term and feature more for the first team, providing he is not sent out on loan.
Given City's widely reported interest in Paul Pogba on a free transfer, one may assume the club were already lining up Gundogan's replacement. However, as reported by David Ornstein of The Athletic, Pogba has opted against a move to the Etihad Stadium – instead preferring an offer from continental Europe.
Whichever option the club pursues in the event of a departure, they will undoubtedly miss the pedigree and vast experience of the German international, who has so often captained the side and is known to be a highly respected member of a trophy-winning squad.
With Fernandinho known to be leaving, a Gundogan departure would leave a leadership void in the team with the captain and vice-captain spots vacated, likely to be filled by the club's current third and fourth captains in Ruben Dias and Kevin De Bruyne, respectively.
Guardiola's first signing in the summer of 2016, Gundogan has been invaluable for the Catalan in three league title victories, four league cup triumphs, and an FA Cup win – to date.
He proved decisive, particularly at the latter end of the 18/19 season when he filled in at holding midfield – in the absence of Fernandinho – as the Blues struck 14 straight wins to retain the Premier League title against a stern Liverpool test.
Last season, Gundogan was out on his own as he propelled City to their third league title in four years as well as a fourth consecutive Carabao Cup, as the club's top scorer – while also providing the team with the perfect balance in the absence of an out and out striker, earning himself a spot in the PFA Team of the Year.
Gundogan is already the Premier League's highest-ever German scorer and will become the league's most successful German should City retain the Premier League, with four league titles to his name – surpassing Robert Huth, who also has three.
Written by: @NA1907_
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