Ilkay Gundogan has been an unassuming presence at Man City, quietly changing into an important cog within the Pep Guardiola machine.
The German has been on the membership for 5 years and is already a three-time Premier League champion.
But it surely has been the 2020/21 season the place he has actually come to the fore, significantly in spells the place Sergio Aguero and Kevin De Bruyne have been injured.
Remarkably, he’s the membership’s prime scorer with 17 targets in all competitions. It’s exceptional as a result of he has by no means actually been thought of a lot of a goalscorer.
Whereas Ruben Dias, Phil Foden and De Bruyne will garner a lot of the speak forward of the Champions League closing on Saturday towards Chelsea, it’s Gundogan who has been one of many actual stars this time period.
Man City prime scorers 2020/21
Ilkay Gundogan – 17
Phil Foden – 16
Raheem Sterling – 14
Riyad Mahrez – 14
Gabriel Jesus – 14
Ferran Torres – 13
Kevin De Bruyne – 10
Sergio Aguero – 6
Bernardo Silva – 5
John Stones – 5
It’s a match that he’s not utterly unfamiliar with having misplaced the Champions League closing towards Bayern Munich whereas enjoying for Borussia Dortmund in 2013.
He’s the one member of the Man City enjoying squad who has performed in a sport of this magnitude earlier than, and his expertise may be important.
And 2013 is little question a 12 months that sticks within the thoughts of the 30-year-old because it might nicely have been the final 12 months he performed in soccer.
A thriller again downside left the midfielder fearing for his profession.
Talking to The Guardian of the damage struggles that stunted his progress that 12 months, he mentioned: “I used to be out for 14 months however the worst half was that nobody actually knew what sort of damage it was.
“I noticed a surgeon and he needed to place an enormous screw in my again which might not permit me to play soccer at that degree. So I used to be petrified of not enjoying once more and I’m actually grateful I discovered the precise [surgeon].
“After all I nonetheless need to take care of points however I’m feeling nicely sufficient.”
Luckily, he was capable of make a restoration and was such an vital presence in Jurgen Klopp’s midfield on the Bundesliga membership.
However a goalscorer he was not. He scored 15 instances in 157 appearances for Dortmund as Klopp used him as a defensive midfielder.
Gundogan’s former coach Michael Oenning revealed he used to have arguments with the now-Liverpool boss about his greatest place.
“For me, Ilkay is and was a no.10. I usually argued with Jurgen Klopp about his greatest place, however he made him into the most effective defensive midfielders,” Oenning advised Purpose.
When Klopp left Dortmund in 2015, Gundogan was ready to move for the exit as nicely earlier than Thomas Tuchel satisfied him to remain. The person who simply so occurs to be main their Champions League opponents.
“I didn’t count on a lot when it was introduced he [Tuchel] was going to be the brand new supervisor at Dortmund, I used to be in talks to go away the membership however I had one cellphone name with him, he introduced himself to me once I was on vacation,” Gundogan mentioned forward of the Champions League closing.
“It was a extremely good name and he defined a couple of issues and all the pieces he mentioned he proved throughout the season. I used to be shocked how nicely he was working with the crew, how well-known he was when it comes to ways. He taught me loads.
“He is a superb supervisor and now he is ready to show it in the very best league on this planet. He did so nicely with Chelsea and managed to get them into the Champions League. That proves he is a superb supervisor. He’s a extremely good man.”
A 12 months later, he left for Man City for a mere £21million. 2020/21 has been a classic 12 months for Gundogan, the place he picked up consecutive Premier League participant of the month awards in January and February.
He goes into Saturday’s sport, which is stay on talkSPORT, hoping to seize a trophy that has thus far eluded each him and City.