Manchester United and Bayern Munich will go head-to-head for the signing of Ilkay Gundogan during the summer, according to reports.
The Borussia Dortmund playmaker, who hasn't appeared since sustaining a long-term back injury in August 2013, is likely to cause a bidding war in the region of £25 million. Bayern are now interested in his services, as reported by German magazine Focus and reported via Kit Holden of the Daily Mail:
Bayern Munich are on the verge of launching a surprise move to sign Borussia Dortmund midfielder Ilkay Gundogan, reports in Germany are suggesting.
[...] Real Madrid had previously been leading the race, with United also in the running, but according to German news magazine Focus, sounding-out talks have already begun at Bayern to investigate the possibility of the transfer.
Gundogan's potential move to Bayern would once again anger Dortmund fans, who have watched on in despair as Mario Gotze and Robert Lewandowski inked deals with the Bundesliga champions in recent times.
Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge confirmed the club will continue to sign BVB players if they feel the individual in question warrants such a move, as reported by ZDF and via Stefan Coerts of Goal.com:
"We would never make a senseless decision to no longer sign players from Dortmund," said Rummenigge. "We have a good relationship with Dortmund. I met with their CEO last summer and any bad feelings were cleared up then."
Holden's report says Gundogan may be outlined as the long-term successor to Bastian Schweinsteiger, with Dortmund increasingly likely to enter negotiations as the 23-year-old approaches the last year of his contract.
United are also expected to maintain pursuit of the German international. The Old Trafford club have continued to be linked with Gundogan's signature across recent transfer windows and would be an excellent signing for David Moyes.
The English club's midfield has needed to be strengthened since well before Sir Alex Ferguson called time on his career. Gundogan's versatility—defined by his ability to win possession and create chances for his teammates—would be well suited to a team that needs major investment across the summer.
Greg Stobart of Goal.com builds upon Gundogan's suitability for Moyes' project:
With Gundogan in a team alongside the likes of Rooney and Juan Mata, United can once again dominate games rather than find themselves embarrassingly overrun even against the most mediocre of opposition.
Which club would offer Ilkay Gundogan the brightest future?
Should Gundogan move to Bayern, it could pave the way for United to step up their interest in Toni Kroos, per ESPN.
Holden suggests Gundogan is most likely to sign for Real Madrid, a suggestion reinforced by the Metro's report from January. Whatever his preference, it seems Gundogan will have plenty of options to choose from if he is to leave the Westfalenstadion.
Although it is easy to forget the worth of a player when he has been missing for so long, Gundogan's vast array of qualities would improve any team in the world. Vitally, he is still developing and has plenty of time to recover from his serious back problem.
If United, Bayern or Madrid can secure the player's future, and Gundogan returns to full fitness, there's no doubt it will be one of the most impressive deals of the summer.