Man City transfer rumours: Why Guardiola wants ‘one of the top midfielders in Europe’

21 Apr

Football stats analysts WhoScored.com analyse a rumoured Manchester City target…


When Manchester City announced that Pep Guardiola would succeed Manuel Pellegrini as manager in the summer, the gossip columns wildly speculated who the Spaniard would look to bring to the Etihad Stadium. Reports suggested Guardiola had a bottomless transfer war chest with which to strengthen the playing squad and while that may still be a possibility, he’s unlikely to spend every penny in the kitty in one summer.

The defence is supposedly one of the key areas Guardiola wants to strengthen, but it’s in the middle of the park where the first signing has supposedly been made. Borussia Dortmund’s Ilkay Gundogan has been strongly linked with a move to City in recent weeks and recent reports suggest a deal is close to completion. A WhoScored.com rating of 7.43 is among the best in the Bundesliga this season and it’s no shock that City top a lengthy list of potential suitors for the 25-year-old.

Indeed, the Manchester club are believed to have won the race to secure his services, with Guardiola keen on bringing the Germany international to England as a replacement for Yaya Toure. The powerhouse Ivorian is expected to depart City this summer, with Guardiola touted to cash in on the midfielder for the second time in his short managerial career having sold the 32-year-old to the Citizens back in 2010 while Barcelona manager.

Gundogan has clearly been earmarked as his replacement for City, with the 25-year-old providing a similar thrust and driving force from deep to help link the defence and attack. Indeed, only two players have a better success rate than Gundogan (68.4%) of those to attempt 50 or more dribbles in the Bundesliga this season, reinforcing his statistically calculated WhoScored.com strength of ‘dribbling’.

Given teams often deploy a 4-2-3-1 formation in England’s top tier, the need for a deep-lying runner from midfield alongside a ball winner is essential and Gundogan has proven how capable a performer he is when he gains a head of steam, charging forward with the ball to help open up the opposition. However, he is not one to unnecessarily bring the ball upfield, with Gundogan knowledgeable enough to know when to pass on possession when it’s needed.

Only three players are playing more passes per Bundesliga game than Gundogan (80.9) this season, with the midfielder amassing a commendable success rate of 87.8%. With the likes of Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva expected to be operating ahead of him for City, his impressive ball retaining quality will help the team break forward and for Gundogan to supply the ammunition for the club’s impressive array of attacking talent to maximise.

Meanwhile, only Arsenal (56.3%) are averaging more possession than City (55.4%) in the Premier League this season and it’s widely expected that Guardiola will implement a similar possession-based game when he takes over the Etihad Stadium reins this summer. Gundogan’s ability to pick out a teammate with consummate ease will help City maintain pressure on the opposition, all the while ensuring opponents can’t forge goalscoring opportunities.

After over a year sidelined with a back problem, Gundogan made an impressive return to full fitness for Dortmund and has once again established himself as one of the top midfielders in Europe. If – as expected – City secure Gundogan’s services in the summer transfer window, they’ll have landed themselves the ideal replacement for Toure, whose days are supposedly numbered at the Etihad Stadium.

For more stats on Ilkay Gundogan, click here to view his WhoScored.com player page

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