Ilkay Gundogan disputes Man City exit claim and confirms why he snubbed Arsenal.
Former Manchester City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan was heavily linked with a transfer to Arsenal before completing a free transfer to Spanish giants Barcelona earlier this summer.
Ilkay Gundogan has admitted that he snubbed interest from Arsenal and other suitors this summer because playing for Barcelona was his “childhood dream”.
Gundogan, 32, enjoyed a trophy-laden seven-year spell at the Etihad before turning down a contract extension in the summer. The veteran midfielder decided to seek a new challenge just weeks after winning the treble with City and was also the subject of surprise transfer interest from the Gunners.
It was Barcelona, though, who won the race for the German international’s signature, with plenty speculating that Gundogan had been won over by the offer of a longer deal. It had been reported that Manchester City had only offered the former Borussia Dortmund ace a one-year deal.
But in an interview with German outlet BILD, Gundogan has scotched talk that he left City over the length of any deal before revealing that he would have probably stayed with the champions had they started contract talks sooner.
In the end, though, Gundogan was given the opportunity to fulfil a “childhood dream” by signing for Barcelona. He said: “I’m honest. And many people don’t know this: In the end, it wasn’t about a year or two. There was no problem with the running time. City waited a relatively long time until the talks really intensified.
“If this had happened a little earlier, the situation would have been different. So in the end it was the perfect ending, it couldn’t have come at a better time. It was also my childhood dream to play for FC Barcelona.”
Arsenal’s reported interest in Gundogan was more than likely driven by Mikel Arteta, who worked closely with Gundogan and numerous other Manchester City stars during his stint on Pep Guardiola’s coaching staff.
The Gunners did manage to bolster their midfield options this summer with the club-record £105million capture of West Ham talisman Declan Rice, who has made an instant impact at the Emirates.
The new kit draws on the spirit of The Invincibles team of 2003/04, marking the beginning of the 20th anniversary of Arsenal’s unbeaten Premier League season. The crest and Adidas’ logo and three stripes down each sleeve feature in gold, and the record of 26 wins and 12 draws over 38 games in that historic season is stitched into the side of the authentic version of the kit.
Gundogan may have swapped the Premier League for LaLiga, but the midfielder revealed he is still keeping a close eye on how his former club are faring in England. He added: “So far I’ve watched almost every game of my former club on TV.
“I was in Manchester again before the start of the season and had a farewell party with Riyad Mahrez, which all the players also came to. That was a very nice goodbye. And contact with ex-colleagues and coaches will certainly continue.”
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