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Ilkay Gundogan Dortmund Delays Spark Real Madrid and Manchester United Hope

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 25:  Ilkay Gundogan of Borussia Dortmund controls the ball 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
Nick AkermanFeatured ColumnistJanuary 6, 2014

Ilkay Gundogan must quickly decide if he wishes to extend his Borussia Dortmund contract, according to Michael Zorc, the club's sporting director.

Zorc told kicker he is "not fond of ultimatums," as reported by Stephan Uersfeld of ESPN FC, but the "other party needs to understand" he cannot wait for Gundogan to make a decision. "Our top priority is to find out if there is a willingness to prolong the contract," he went on to say.

Dortmund CEO, Aki Watzke, has confirmed a "timely decision" is needed by the player, per Uersfeld. Such statements intensify rumours linking Gundogan with a move to Real Madrid or Manchester United.

Although Arsenal are also suggested to be in for the German midfielder, per Charles Perrin of the Express, it is the aforementioned duo of clubs that are current favourites to snatch him away from the Westfalenstadion.

Gundogan's injury-ravaged season has seen him make just one Bundesliga appearance this campaign, per WhoScored.com. When fully fit, the versatile midfielder is an integral part of what makes Dortmund such an entertaining and effective side to watch.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 25:  Ilkay Gundogan of Borussia Dortmund celebrates 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
Alex Grimm/Getty Images

The 23-year-old scored in the 2013 Champions League final loss to Bayern Munich. He plays an important role in maintaining the balance of Jurgen Klopp's team and contributes to both attacking and defensive phases of play.

His distribution and ability to keep calm on the ball often sees his team escape trouble, and even though his last appearance came in Germany's 3-3 draw with Paraguay on Aug. 18 of last year—a match he scored in—Gundogan's name has continued to crop up in the transfer gossip columns.

With Dortmund, Madrid and United currently struggling to maintain pace at the top of their domestic leagues, it is likely to be a disappointing season for Gundogan no matter what happens.

MADRID, SPAIN - APRIL 30:  Ilkay Gundogan of Borussia Dortmund is challenged by Kaka of Real Madrid during the UEFA Champions League Semi Final Second Leg match between Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on April 30, 2013 in Ma
Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Out of the teams the player is linked to, United arguably need Gundogan most. Midfield shortcomings have crippled the Red Devils' progress, but as reported by Bryan Swanson of Sky Sports News, David Moyes will have money to spend this month:

Gundogan can quash or flame any speculation by talking about the situation in public. His intentions could see him tied to Dortmund for the long term, or indeed, headed elsewhere in search of trophies.

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