Manchester City is reportedly closing in on two midfield targets as they prepare for Pep Guardiola’s arrival as manager next season.
Multiple outlets are claiming that City’s sporting director, Txiki Begiristain, met with the agent and uncle of Borussia Dortmund and Germany midfielder Ilkay Gundogan in Amsterdam and the 25-year-old is set to seal a $31 million move (his buyout clause) to the Etihad Stadium this summer.
[ PLAYBACK: Analyzing title run-in ]
According to German newspaper Bild, Gundogan’s agent spoke with Begiristain for 45 minutes and Guardiola then met the sporting director at the same venue, the Conservatorium Hotel.
Gundogan — who Guardiola has seen up close in the Bundesliga over the past three seasons while coaching Bayern Munich — will only have a year left on his deal at Dortmund this summer and the German club is willing to cash in on him now rather than risk losing him for nothing.
Barcelona and Manchester United have also shown interest in the central midfielder who rose to prominence under Jurgen Klopp at Dortmund during their run to the UEFA Champions League final in the 2012-13 season. Gundogan is able to sit in midfield and dictate the tempo with his pinpoint passing, while an incredible engine also allows him to high press. You’d think that with Guardiola’s past difference with Yaya Toure (he sold him when he was manager at Barcelona to Man City) the big Ivorian could leave this summer, while an upgrade of City’s midfield options should be a priority for the Spanish coach.
[ VIDEO: Suarez back at Liverpool ]
Another man linked with a move to the Etihad this summer is Arsenal and England midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
“The Ox”, 22, has struggled to hold down a regular spot out wide for the Gunners since arriving from Southampton in 2011 for $20 million due to injuries and plenty of competition with the north London club and recent reports claimed Chelsea were interested in signing him. However, on Wednesday The Times is reporting that Guardiola was impressed with Oxlade-Chamberlain in a central role during Arsenal’s 1-1 draw at Bayern Munich in the UCL back in 2013-14, and wants to bring him to City.
Chamberlain is currently out with a knee ligament injury he sustained against Barcelona in their UCL clash three weeks ago, but I think it’s fair to say that the youngster hasn’t developed the way Arsene Wenger and Arsenal’s fans would have hoped after spending five injury-hit seasons at the Emirates Stadium. With Man City seeming to like the player, Liverpool are also said to be interested and bear in mind, Oxlade-Chamberlin’s current Arsenal contract runs out in the summer of 2018. Is his agent just drumming up interest here?
[ MORE: Fans cause earthquake ]
That could be the case, but it’s true that the Ox has plenty of potential and may be better off moving on from Arsenal and getting a chance to play regularly. Can you blame him for wanting to move to City and get a potential pay rise, plus also work with Guardiola? If the opportunity arises, it’s a no brainer.