Manchester City confirmed the signing of midfielder Ilkay Gundogan on Thursday, with the German international becoming Pep Guardiola’s first signing since joining the club.
The Spanish tactician will be plotting a rebuild at the Etihad this summer, as he looks to sign individuals that fit his ideologies and can play effectively in his system.
Having been successful at both Barcelona and Bayern Munich with those philosophies, it will now be a case of deciding which current stars can fit the mould, and which players around Europe can help him take the club where they want to be.
Gundogan is the first major step towards achieving that ambition, with the former Borussia Dortmund midfielder now set to become City’s main ball-playing midfielder with an ability to dictate the tempo of the game through retaining possession.
From Xavi to Xabi Alonso before him, Guardiola puts a major emphasis on having a player in midfield capable of playing that role consistently well, and ultimately that is what he has planned for Gundogan moving forward.
The 25-year-old has struggled with injuries in recent times, including this summer which is why he has been left out of Joachim Low’s Germany squad for Euro 2016.
In turn, he will be desperate to get fit this summer and put his injury woes behind him, as he now has the opportunity to become a major part of something special in Manchester, both on an individual level and collectively.
Gundogan will essentially be tasked with picking up possession deep and starting attacks, while also playing a key role in regaining the ball and ensuring that play keeps ticking over as City’s movement up front will allow them to break teams open.
He’s proven his class on the ball since joining Dortmund in 2011, but the pressure and responsibility on his shoulders moving forward will now determine whether or not he’s ready to take the next step in his career. Given the money invested in him despite having just a year remaining on his contract, it’s clear how highly Guardiola regards him.
Follow Sumeet Paul on Twitter @SP_Calcio