The upcoming campaign will significantly rely on the contribution of the newly signed individual.
Ilkay Gundogan has become an official player for Barcelona and will play a significant role in the team’s endeavor to defend their La Liga championship.
This particular signing fits perfectly, like a glove.
He joins the team without a transfer fee and, at 32, will have a two-year contract, with the possibility of an additional year, to assist in managing Xavi’s midfield.
Finally, Barcelona has gained an advantage over Manchester City. It is a business move with low risk and high potential for rewards, which is expected to bring immediate benefits to Blaugrana. It also poses challenging questions for Pep Guardiola, particularly if Bernardo Silva decides to leave City.
Gundogan joined Manchester City in 2016, coinciding with the arrival of the Catalan manager. His tenure in the Sky Blue jersey initially faced challenges due to injuries. Still, over time, he solidified his position as a crucial part of Pep’s midfield, forming a formidable partnership with Kevin De Bruyne.
What makes Gundogan’s resume particularly thrilling is his comprehension of Barcelona’s ball-possession philosophy and his evolution in Manchester City’s tactical approach throughout different seasons.
The German midfielder is a confirmed champion, having secured five Premier League titles in six seasons.
He is well acquainted with Barcelona’s favored 4-3-3 formation, as he has previously operated in the midfield alongside De Bruyne and traditional holding midfielders such as Fernandinho and Rodri.
However, with the departure of Sergio Busquets, the task of fielding Frenkie de Jong solely as a No.6 and having Pedri and Gundogan as attacking midfielders in front of him may be challenging. Although, this scenario is the most probable starting point.
Xavi will need to conduct tactical experiments and assist the team in discovering a new structure and identity in the midfield.
Gundogan has occasionally played a more profound role within a double pivot. However, it differs from his preferred position, and the reasoning behind moving in this direction needs to be clarified, apart from using it as an experimental approach. This tactical shift would place additional pressure on Pedri as a number 10, but on the other hand, it could also provide the young Spaniard with more room and freedom to showcase his creative abilities.
Adopting a 4-2-3-1 formation could also prove advantageous for wingers like Ousmane Dembele and Raphinha. In this setup, they would have the entire flank at their disposal, allowing them to receive the ball and take on defenders in one-on-one situations.
Gundogan played a crucial in Manchester City’s remarkable treble triumph in the most recent season. The team underwent another tactical transformation, adopting an extremely attacking 3-2-4-1 formation. In this setup, Gundogan operated with none other than John Stones in a double pivot behind him, while the prolific goal scorer Erling Haaland spearheaded the attack upfront.
Is Barcelona capable of achieving such a tactical feat?
Barcelona could consider deploying Eric Garcia alongside Frenkie de Jong in a defensive partnership while utilizing Pedri and Gundogan in advanced attacking positions. This setup would support Robert Lewandowski as the central striker, with Dembele and Gavi providing width on the flanks.
The outcome will depend on Xavi’s willingness to take risks or his decision to stick with the more familiar 4-3-3 formation.
Having Gundogan on the team gives the manager a versatile player with the intelligence to adapt to any role or responsibility.
Moreover, this player has an instinct for finding the back of the net, making him a valuable asset in goal-scoring abilities.
Remember when the German player had an impressive run in the 2020-2021 season, scoring 11 goals in 12 matches while operating as a false nine? During that period, he demonstrated his skill in maneuvering the final third, showcasing remarkable timing and anticipation in front of the goal. This ability was further reaffirmed in the subsequent season.
Gundogan effortlessly makes scoring goals appear simple, showcasing the qualities of the best goal scorers in the game.
I eagerly anticipate the partnership between Gundogan, Pedri, and Frenkie, but it raises the question of whether Gavi might be left with less prominent involvement.
Will Gavi be required to play on the wing, or will Xavi devise a strategy to effectively utilize all four midfielders simultaneously?
Alternatively, Gundogan might find himself on the bench, striving to earn his place in the starting lineup.
The presence of depth, particularly in the midfield, will significantly improve Barcelona. It is reasonable to assume that Gundogan has already gained Xavi’s trust, which holds great importance, considering the underutilization of Franck Kessie and Pablo Torre, who spent most of the previous season on the bench.
Is there a possibility of another Manchester City signing, namely Joao Cancelo, joining the team?
Acquiring a proven full-back like Joao Cancelo, who possesses the versatility to play on both the right and left sides, would be a significant step towards accomplishing the mission for Barcelona. However, acquiring Cancelo would likely come at a cost rather than a free transfer.
However, continuously strengthening the midfield remains a paramount objective for any Barcelona squad.
A warm welcome to Ilkay Gundogan in joining Barcelona.
Let’s get to work and strive for success.