Borussia Dortmund midfielder Ilkay Gundogan isn't saying he is eager to find a new home, but his recent comments also aren't exactly going to deter interested teams away.
The 23-year-old hasn't stepped onto the pitch since August, as he is recovering from back issues, but that doesn't seem to be slowing down the interest he is receiving from other clubs.
Gundogan does not appear to be oblivious to the outside attention, and he addressed his future recently. As Sport Bild (h/t Chris Wheeler and Simon Jones of the Daily Mail) pass along, Gundogan said:
It’s still really open. Dortmund are my first point of contact. I will make a considered decision soon but I am keeping my options open at this point.
Borussia Dortmund have not set me an ultimatum. I’m just trying to be healthy and to get back on the pitch.
Where will Gundogan call home after the summer transfer window?
This is certainly a level-headed and realistic approach. Gundogan needs to focus on getting healthy and treating his back in the way most conducive to long-term health. Obviously, he doesn't need to say anything alienating himself from his current club.
He also doesn't need to say anything that would close any doors on paths to better opportunities, and he bluntly said "I am keeping my options open."
So, all of this is likely to see Manchester United and Real Madrid compete against each other on the transfer wire. Those are the two clubs mentioned as interested in the German international by Wheeler and Jones. The pair also report that the midfielder is valued at £25 million.
United and Madrid aren't the only two power clubs linked to this midfielder. It wouldn't be a true power party without Barcelona. Luckily for us, CNN's Tancredi Palmeri not only invites the defending La Liga champs but gives them a place of honor:
Barcelona had several meetings with Gundogan's entourage in the last days, according to Bild— Tancredi Palmeri (@tancredipalmeri) January 16, 2014
I think Barcelona will just go all the way for Gundogan— Tancredi Palmeri (@tancredipalmeri) January 15, 2014
Fox's Christian Martin expands on Barcelona's motivation for interest:
Barcelona are interested in signing Ilkay Gundogan, who could be a replacement for Xavi should he decide to move to NY after the WC— Christian Martin (@askomartin) January 16, 2014
As for the Red Devils, their interest should be no surprise. The slumping side has holes all over the pitch and with David Moyes reportedly being given a tidy £200 million to spend, we are going to be hearing of United's interest in lots of targets.
With interest from clubs like these, it quickly becomes clear that this 23-year-old is something special.
Gundogan is a well-rounded midfielder. He has good ball control and a natural talent for moving the ball forward. He has also proven to be an excellent tackler.
Squawka has Gundogan as winning 51 of his 64 tackle attempts last season with Borussia.
Of course, Borussia can't be itching to watch Gundogan depart. The German powers just saw, as BBC Sport reported, that Robert Lewandowski had signed a pre-contract agreement to jump ship to rival Bayern Munich on a free transfer this summer.
In fact, Borussia has admitted their desire to tie him to a deal:
Gundogan's back issues may very well means he stays with Borussia through January, but it seems unlikely he will be there past next summer, and he would be a nice place for the Red Devils to start their reshaping.