Speculation is now reaching new heights. Manchester City are fast approaching the biggest summer in their history, with the unveiling of Pep Guardiola now very much on the horizon, and they are being linked with host of top players.
Chief among them is Ilkay Gundogan, the Borussia Dortmund midfielder considered one of the finest passers in the Bundesliga. Txiki Begiristain, City’s sporting director, was seen meeting both Guardiola and Ilhan Gundogan, Ilkay’s uncle and agent, in Amsterdam just two weeks ago, as reported by David Anderson writing in the Mirror. It seems he tops the club’s list of priorities.
However, as it stands, no deal has been agreed. Ilhan told Bild earlier this week: “It is not true [that it is a done deal]. “There is no decision and everything is still open. Ilkay is focusing further on his recovery.”
It’s no secret that Guardiola adored midfielders. They are the players who determine whether a team wins or not. As he himself said, reported by James Robson at the Manchester Evening News, “I love the midfield players.
“I would like to have a thousand midfield players in my squad, in my team because I believe the midfield players are intelligent and understand the game.
“They understand back and they understand forward.
“You can win the games with good defenders and good strikers, but to play good, you need midfield players.”
Another who appears to be catching his eye, according to Marca, (via James Dixon writing in the Manchester Evening News), is Toni Kroos, Real Madrid’s German pass master. He joined Real in 2014 from Bayern Munich. His first season was a huge success, however, his form this term has been patchier. A move to join up with Guardiola may appeal
It would be a great piece of business for City. Their squad is need if a overhaul, an injection of quality, and Kroos can certainly provide that.
His passing, at its best, is up there with the best around. He gets his head up, spits runners and can find them in the blink of an eye, capable of threading balls through tight spaces and unlocking defences.
His set pieces, too, would be an asset for City. Few whip in corners and crosses from wide areas with as much
Perhaps his finest display, and one which demonstrated his passing ability most vividly, was his performance in German’s 7-1 win over Brazil in the semi-final of the World Cup in 2014.
Beating Brazil on home soil at a major championships is one thing; dismantling them in ruthless fashion is quite another. It was remarkable, and Kroos, the Man of the Match, was the chief orchestrator.
His 11th-minute cross was fired home by Thomas Muller for the opener, he played a superb throughball in the build up to Miroslav Klose’s ,,, goal and then scored two of his own. He was sensational, the hub of Germany’s thumping creativity.
It prompted Real Madrid to spend ,,, on him—a bargain when compared with other transfer fees thrown around that same summer on players of far less quality.
He is one of the finest playmakers in the game. Real Madrid is a strange place to play football. Interference from the president, the constant change of managers, their odd transfer priorities—many players have moved there and left feeling somewhat unfulfilled. If he was to leave the Bernabeu this summer, it wouldn’t be an indictment of his talent.
His role has perhaps been too minor. Kroos excels when he is the at the centre of everything,
Guardiola’s vision for City is likely to entice players. This, let’s not forget, is the most sought-after manager in the game, a man players seem desperate to play for.
"Pep is ahead of his time,” Xabi Alonso told Sky Sports News HQ earlier this week. "He is very demanding of himself and his players, but once you get to know it [the style], then it is the way we like to play."
Rob Pollard is Bleacher Report's lead Manchester City correspondent and will be following the club from a Manchester base throughout the 2015/16 season. All quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Follow him on Twitter @RobPollard.