Manchester City

Manchester City

Premier League • England

Man City power struggle blamed for star player’s summer exit, with Pep Guardiola left frustrated

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola ahead of the UEFA Champions League semi-final second leg match at Etihad Stadium, Manchester. Picture date: Wednesday May 17, 2023.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola

A disagreement between Pep Guardiola and Manchester City director of football Txiki Begiristain allowed Barcelona to swoop in to sign Ilkay Gundogan last summer.

That is the claim of Spanish newspaper El Pais, which reports that Guardiola and Begiristain were divided over offering a contract extension to the midfielder.

Having joined from Borussia Dortmund in 2016, Gundogan established himself as a modern Manchester City icon by contributing to five Premier League-winning seasons as well as last season’s Champions League success.

With his contract expiring at the end of last season, however, Gundogan’s future was the subject of much uncertainty during his final months in Manchester.

He went on to join Barcelona in June and has registered four assists in 13 appearances to date for the Catalan club.

However, El Pais have claimed that Manchester City were caught “dragging their feet” when it came to resolving Gundogan’s future as Guardiola and Begiristain held opposing views over what to do with the player, who recently turned 33.

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While Begiristain “was not willing” to offer a new three-year contract to a player of such an advanced age, Guardiola was adamant that Gundogan could still be a key cog in his side.

Guardiola reportedly persuaded Begiristain to come round to his way of thinking, yet by that point it was too late as Barcelona had made their move.

Manchester City indecisiveness blamed for Ilkay Gundogan exit

The report adds that initially Gundogan was not minded to move away from the Etihad, but changed his view after an “unexpected call” from Jordi Cruyff, Barcelona’s former sporting director and son of legendary manager Johan.

Following his departure from Manchester City, Gundogan paid a glowing tribute to Guardiola having lifted a total of 14 trophies during his seven-year spell in England.

“Before I joined Man City, I thought I knew football,” he told ESPN. I was 25 or 26 years old, I’d seen a lot. I’d played a Champions League final.

“But now standing here after seven years of Pep’s school, I’d say I didn’t know anything about football before. His influence on the team and me personally was immense.”

After Barcelona announced the signing of Gundogan, Guardiola said: “What could I say – it was an incredible seven years together.

“I don’t have the words to describe my gratitude to him. I wish him all the best in the challenge of his life. Barcelona have bought an incredible player, but this is life. Everyone has family challenges.

“We tried to convince him to stay, but we could not. We wish him all the best.”

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