Ilkay Gundogan is one unlucky man.
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The Manchester City and Germany midfielder went down with a suspected knee ligament injury in the 44th minute of the 2-0 win over Watford on Wednesday and despite playing on before later being substituted, he is expected out for a long time.
Sadly, that’s nothing new for 26-year-old Gundogan to deal with as the deep-lying playmaker has spent much of the last six years of his career battling through various injuries. Gundogan injured his knee cap last May before joining from Borussia Dortmund in the summer and didn’t make his City debut until September.
Since then he’s been influential whenever he’s featured in City’s midfield, scoring five goals and he came up big in the UEFA Champions League group stage win against Barcelona in November.
Speaking after City’s win against Watford, which keeps them fourth in the Premier League but still seven points off leaders Chelsea, manager Pep Guardiola fears Gundogan will be out for some time.
“We are going to miss him I think for a long time,” Guaridola said. “It is the worst news of the day… He’s sad. So sad. We spoke with him and he said I want to try but when he hangs up and says he cannot follow him we expected it was not good.”
With Gundogan seemingly out for the majority of the rest of the season with a serious knee injury, his absence will leave a huge hole in City’s midfield.
His ability to drop deep and shield the three-man central defense alongside Fernandinho has been a key feature of whenever Guardiola’s City have been at their best this season.
Gundogan has that extra quality on the ball to help Guardiola’s philosophy flourish at City and he struck up an instant partnership with David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne to feed them the ball and provide a link between midfield and attack. Now that link is gone.
Sure, City has plenty of players such as Fernando, Fabian Delph and Aleix Garcia who can slot in for Gundogan but Guardiola will be bemoaning his luck as one of the key parts of his jigsaw will miss the majority of the season.