After his contract with Manchester City expired, Ilkay Gundogan, the club’s captain, decided to sign for Barcelona instead.
As Gundogan departs Manchester, the club is coming off its best season ever, having won the Premier League, FA Cup, and Champions League all in the span of a month.
Gundogan’s current contract with City is set to expire at the end of this week, and the two sides have been in contract negotiations.
The duration of the contract being offered to the 32-year-old was a sticking point; it was for one year with an option for a further 12 months. Instead, he signed a two-year agreement with LaLiga winners Barcelona, which also included a 12-month option. The amount of €400m (£342m) has been set as his release clause.
“This club made me realise all my dreams and I will forever be thankful for this opportunity.
“I will carry City always in my heart. Once a blue, always a blue.”
Being captain for this historic season was the highlight of my professional career, and I am grateful to have been a part of so many incredible memories during my time here.
First, I’d like to express my gratitude to Pep. I will always be grateful for the opportunity to learn from him and play under his tutelage for so long.
I’d also like to express my gratitude to my former and current teammates for their contributions to the incredible experience I’ve had here.
“Finally, I’d like to thank the amazing City supporters. They’ve been there for me ever since I got here, and I owe them a lot.
All my hopes and goals came true because of this group, and I will be eternally grateful.
City will always be a part of me. If you’re a blue, you’re always a blue.
Ilkay Gundogan: Leaving City was the most heartbreaking farewell, and all I could think about was Barca.
The announcement to his City teammates that he was leaving was the hardest farewell in sport, Gundogan wrote on the Player’s Tribune website, explaining why he had chosen Barcelona as his next and possibly final move.
He penned, “Goodbyes are never easy, but they’re especially difficult with this team.” I was overcome with emotion when I had to tell the males in our group chat that I was leaving. In utter candor, I will miss them all.
But I can say with pride that I’m departing as a winner, and that my feelings towards the club are entirely positive. Something finally clicked this season. It was certain that we would succeed.
It’s not even limited to the Champions League. Everything from the English Premier League through the FA Cup. Week after week, I had this feeling that everything was falling into place. I thought we would win the league even when we were 10 points behind Arsenal.
He continued, “If I was going to move, there is only one club in the world that made sense,” presumably referring to his move to Barcelona. Either Barcelona or nothing at all.
“I’ve had this fantasy since I was a youngster that I’d grow up to wear that shirt. I know I have a few more good years in me, and now I just want to help get Barcelona back to where they belong.
Gundogan was Manchester City’s captain when they won the treble.
Txiki Begiristain, City’s director of football, praised the “inspiring” Gundogan after the long-anticipated free transfer of the midfielder to Barcelona was finalised.
Gundogan, who was Guardiola’s first signing in July 2016, went out on top by winning the Champions League in his 304th and last game, a triumph over Inter Milan.
Begiristain praised Ilkay for his time at Manchester City, saying, “He leaves our club on a very special high having captained us to a historic treble.”
Ilkay’s smarts, leadership, and dedication to the club (on and off the pitch) have been an inspiration to everyone, and he deserves a lot of credit for the recent successes we’ve had.
We all hope that the next chapter of Ilkay’s career is as successful as the one he helped write for Manchester City.