The midfielder does not want to stay at Man City next season
For months now, Barça's sporting management, in sync with the coaching staff led by Xavi Hernandez, has been designing the squad for next season. They do so in the knowledge of the difficulties the club may have with signing players and with the obligation of having to drastically reduce the wage bill of the first team. That is why they are very attentive to the market for free players. They already did so last year, succeeding in signing players such as Christensen and Kessie in this way.
One of the areas that the coaches want to strengthen, regardless of Sergio Busquets' decision about whether or not to continue at Barca for another year, is the midfield. The coach wants more ability to unbalance opponents. Even more so after the experience with Pedri's injury, because since the Canary Islander has been out, as happened in the previous season, Barça have lost a lot of that skillset.
Their favourite target to be stronger in this area of the pitch has always been Bernardo Silva, but the Portuguese midfielder seems unattainable for Barça. That is why they have made great strides with another Manchester City player whose contract expires on June 30: Ilkay Gundogan.
The 32-year-old German international is a regular in Pep Guardiola's side and Manchester City would be delighted to keep him on for another year. He has made 37 appearances this season, scoring four goals and providing four assists. Ferran Soriano and Txiki Begiristain are willing to offer him a one-season lowball renewal, but they suspect the German has already decided to call time on his career at the English club, which he joined in 2016 for €27m from Borussia Dortmund. They believe he does not want to continue and has decided to join Barça, a team he has always wanted to play for and admired for their style. In addition, his wife seems to be fed up with living in England, preferring a change of scenery and Barcelona would be an ideal destination.
Contact between Barça and Gundogan has been going on for months and negotiations are progressing at a good pace. The Blaugrana are willing to offer the German international a two-year contract, more than what Manchester City can offer him. However, any agreement will always be subject to Barça being able to solve the problem they have with Financial Fair Play and LaLiga allowing them to sign players in the next market. They are already working on this, looking to reduce the wage bill by 200 million euros.
One of the reasons that makes Ilkay Gundogan a highly regarded reinforcement at Barça is that he can play in any of the midfield positions. The German is very comfortable playing inside, in advanced positions and looking to link up with the strikers, but he also plays well when he has to play in a more advanced position. That is, where Sergio Busquets and Frenkie de Jong usually play when Xavi decides to play with four midfielders.