“It’s amazing to be here. It’s a pleasure and a pride, and I can’t wait for the first game. I want to win, I want to continue winning here,” said Ilkay Gündogan this Monday at his debut as a new Barcelona player. The German midfielder of Turkish origin was presented at the Camp Tito Vilanova in the Ciutat Esportiva de Sant Joan Despí and he was impatient to begin a stage that he reached in full maturity, at the age of 32, and after being one of the most determinants in the treble achieved by Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City last season.
The arrival of Gundogan puts an end to a desire that the culé club had for several seasons. The German midfielder had always been on the radar for being a player capable of adapting perfectly to the model that is styled in Barcelona. «Here it is important to win and get titles, but it is also important to be the best and play well, in a certain way. I think you know that idea better than other players, the way of playing that we want. Normally, when you’re the best, you win,” Joan Laporta said before giving the player his new shirt, still without an assigned number.
Gundogan lands at Barcelona to fulfill a dream that he had had in his mind for years, that of wearing the shirt of a team that he followed as a teenager. “I am very proud to be part of this club. Many of my idols have played here. I watched all of Rijkaard’s and Pep’s Barça matches. Despite my age, I have a lot to offer. I think I can help the team to reach a new level. The mix of young and experienced players is perfect. Now we have to prove it,” added the former Manchester City player.
Gundogan arrives at Barcelona after being a key player in the Champions League, Premier League and FA Cup champion Manchester City. There he found a winning model and he had before him the possibility of continuing to win titles regularly. Despite this, he does not believe that the change of club is a step backwards in that objective. «I think there is great potential in this team, last season was very good and I will do everything possible to help the group continue in that direction. The following years will surely be better and more special. Long live Barça », he stated before closing the presentation on the field with a round with players from La Masia.
Xavi’s first request
Mateu Alemany acknowledged that Gündogan was “the first signing that Xavi requested” and proof of that interest that the Tarrasa coach had is that he did not hesitate to pick up the phone to convince the German to sign for Barça. “He explained the ideas to me clearly, how we had to play, in a very similar way to City. From the beginning we had a fantastic connection. I liked the way he approached, the sincerity and the fact that he was so direct. I saw myself reflected in him not because of what he said, but because of how he said it. Now I’m here and I’m completely happy,” said the former City player.
To get to this presentation, Barcelona has had to sweat Chinese ink. Gundogan ended his contract with Manchester City on June 30 and that meant that there were many teams interested in signing the German. Luckily, the culés had already done their homework months ago, as recognized by Mateu Alemany. «The first time we talked about it was the day we closed the signing of Christensen because they share the same agent. We wait until January and then we start a collective work. I know that he had financial proposals much higher than that of Barça », assured the football director of the Barça club.
After complying with the formal presentation, Gündogan finished his last day off and starting this Tuesday he will be under the orders of Xavi, who awaits him with open arms. The German soccer player will travel with the rest of the expedition to the United States this Wednesday where the club will begin a tour in which they will play four games against Juventus (July 22), Arsenal (July 26), Real Madrid (July 29, July) and Milan (August 1). After finishing this journey, Xavi’s men will close the preseason on August 8 against Tottenham in the Joan Gamper Trophy and will be ready for a season that will raise the curtain five days later with their debut against Getafe at the Coliseum Alfonso Pérez.