Ilkay Gundogan became the first signing of the Pep Guardiola era at Manchester City this morning when his capture from Borussia Dortmund was announced.
According to BBC Sport, the 25-year-old German joins the Citizens on a four-year contract after seven years with Dortmund, for a fee in the region of £20m.
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Gundogan has been one of the world’s most coveted midfielders for several years, and had previously been linked with several of City’s Premier League rivals.
He won the 2011-12 Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal double, and helped Dortmund to the Champions League final the next year. He was part of the Germany side which reached the semi-finals of Euro 2012.
Gundogan arrives with good pedigree and a fine reputation as a dynamic box-to-box midfielder who also has the technical qualities to thrive in a Guardiola team.
My colleague Sumeet Paul argues that he is the “perfect fit” for Guardiola’s City, but I do not think he is the midfield signing that they needed for a single reason.
He has a terrible recent injury record, and City are already plagued by crocks throughout the spine of their team. They needed somebody more physically reliable.
According to transfermarkt, since August 2013, when he suffered a serious back injury, Gundogan has missed 112 Dortmund games during 13 different layoffs.
Throughout the same period, Gundogan managed to play 74 matches for Dortmund – 40 this season before his Euro 2016 dreams were ended by a knee problem.
Sky Sports understands that his dislocated kneecap could sideline Gundogan for a further five months and prevent him from making his Blues debut until December.
That is far from ideal. He will miss a pre-season in which City must learn and adapt to Guardiola’s style and tactics, and return just prior to the hectic festive schedule.
According to the Daily Mail, Yaya Toure will depart Eastlands this summer. That would create a void in midfield which would need filling immediately, not by Christmas.
And when he returns, there is no guarantee that he will stay fit for long. City already have key players whose fitness they cannot rely on – Vincent Kompany and Sergio Aguero.
Over the last three seasons, Aguero and Silva have missed 30% of City’s Premier League games, with captain Kompany even more susceptible, missing 44% of matches.
Judging by his fitness record over the last same three-year period, Gundogan would be in the Kompany class of being unavailable for nearly half of City’s top-flight outings.
It was arguably this inability to call on their top stars often enough, and the disruption caused by them coming in and out of the team, which rocked City’s challenge this term.
Gundogan is an excellent player, worth a gamble for many other clubs. But it is a mistake on Guardiola’s behalf in his first foray into the transfer market as Citizens manager.
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