Scouting Real Madrid Transfer Target Ilkay Gundogan

Samuel MarsdenFeatured ColumnistDecember 29, 2013

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 25:  Ilkay Gundogan of Borussia Dortmund (L) celebrates with team-mate Marcel Schmelzer after scoring a goal from the penalty spot during the UEFA Champions League final match between Borussia Dortmund and FC Bayern Muenchen at Wembley Stadium on May 25, 2013 in London, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Alex Grimm/Getty Images)
Alex Grimm/Getty Images

Real Madrid’s interest in Borussia Dortmund midfielder Ilkay Gundogan has been reported for several months now, but it’s taken a step closer to becoming a reality in the last few days.

Ifran Gundogan, the player’s father and agent, has told Spanish newspaper AS (h/t football-espana) that Los Blancos are very keen on the German international:

The interest from Madrid is intense. They want to bid for my son, but at the moment we can’t do anything until his back injury has gone. When he’s back playing regularly, then maybe we will talk.

Gundogan’s sustained the injury playing in an international friendly against Paraguay earlier in the season and, as a result, the 23-year-old has not pulled on a Dortmund shirt since the first game of the Bundesliga season back in August.

BVB have clearly felt the effects of his absence.

They end the year 12 points behind Bayern Munich, who have played one game fewer, despite everything looking so promising when, inspired by an imperious Gundogan, they beat Pep Guardiola’s side 4-2 in the DFB-Superpokal.

His performance wasn’t surprising that day; he’s been on an upward trajectory since arriving from Nurnberg in 2011.

Klopp signed him as a replacement for Nuri Sahin at the time and, somewhat ironically, Marca suggest that in allowing Sahin to return to the German side recently, Madrid have requested they have first dibs on Gundogan.

Originally a playmaker, B/R’s Bundesliga columnist Clark Whitney talks of how Gundogan "was initially a failure; he played the holding role as though he were still a No. 10, and his risk-taking in deep areas allowed opponents to counterattack."

He eventually grew into his new role, though, and has been a vital ingredient of a Dortmund side which captured Europe’s heart last season as they progressed to the Champions League final—where they were beaten by Bayern.

Gundogan is now a holding midfielder pretty much any side in the world would like to have in their squad—as proved by Madrid’s interest who, at the time of writing, have Asier Illarramendi, Xabi Alonso, Luka Modric, Casemiro and Sami Khedira all desperate to play in Carlo Ancelotti’s midfield two.

What would Gundogan mean for Khedira + Alonso?
What would Gundogan mean for Khedira + Alonso?Denis Doyle/Getty Images

However, in time, it is thought the Italian will eventually switch to a three-man midfield.

He’s already tried it this season prior to Khedira’s injury and Gundogan would be comfortable fitting into either formation.

Last season, with Dortumund, his job was to break things up, win the ball and let players such as Mario Gotze and Marco Reus play—he did it with aplomb.

No player in the side completed more passes than Gundogan (87 percent), while 63 interceptions and 51 tackles in his 28 league appearances emphasise how vital he was when it came to winning the ball back.

He’s an inch or so short of 6'0" and, as with many players who have played under Klopp, has developed a fantastic engine in the middle of the park.

Having played higher up the pitch as a youngster, Gundogan clearly excels on the ball where other holding midfielders may not, while the tenacity and defensive nous he’s added to his game come into play in tighter games.

There’s no doubt he’d be a fantastic addition for Madrid; the only worry, despite their obvious differences, is what does their relentless pursuit of Gundogan tell us about Xabi Alonso’s contract situation?

Stats courtesy of Squawka