Ilkay Gündogan: What you need to know about the Manchester United target

By Jamie Thomas.

The Borussia Dortmund exodus appears to be getting underway just 10 days after Jürgen Klopp announced he would depart the club at the end of the season, as one of his best players, £25million-rated Ilkay Gündogan, is believed to be very close to signing for United.

Ilkay Gündogan, when match fit, has consistently been one of the most important players to the Dortmund cause over the last few years. He has one of the most interesting skill sets of any central midfielder in the world right now.

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A natural playmaker converted to more of a holding midfielder, Dortmund’s number 8 has athletic ability and physical presence but also the vision and skill to turn a game on its head in an instant. Nuri Sahin is credited with enabling Dortmund’s counter-attacking style of play but highly-rated Gündogan is arguably more important in this regard. He’s a combative midfielder, too, often winning a lot of loose balls and breaking up the opposition play to start counter-attacks, which makes him the perfect companion to play alongside the likes of Angel Di Maria.

However, Gündogan has suffered a lot of injury problems over the last 18 months or so. He missed most of the first half of the Bundesliga season when Dortmund won just four of their 17 league fixtures, and were, therefore, languishing near the bottom of the table. It’s no surprise that their recovery coincided with his own after the winter break.

They’ve only lost three of the 12 games they’ve played since then – at home to Augsburg when Mat Hummels and Roman Weidenfeller went to face the wrath of the Yellow Wall, against fierce rivals Bayern Munich and away to Borussia Mönchengladbach. Gündogan missed the first game after the break against Bayer Leverkusen but he has since played 90 minutes in seven matches and over 70 minutes in the other five games.

United fans will inevitably draw comparisons with Michael Carrick as the 24-year-old would be his long-term replacement. So how do the German and the Englishman compare?

They’re obviously very alike in playing style – although Gündogan is more dynamic and has a bit more of a physical presence but, otherwise, there isn’t much in it. United have only lost two of 18 games when Carrick has started this season against Manchester City away and Southampton at Old Trafford.

Statistically they’re very similar, too, with Carrick just having the edge in terms of passing accuracy, length and percentage of duels won, according to stats website Squawka. However, Gündogan blows him away on 21 chances created in his 19 appearances compared to the United ace’s eight in 18. Neither player has made any defensive errors.

Gündogan holds up well against midfield revelation Ander Herrera, as the Spaniard has created 21 chances in 22 games and is almost identical in terms of passing statistics. However, the 25-year-old has actually made three defensive errors throughout the course of the season.

Whether he signs for United or this is just another rumour, Gündogan has been one of Dortmund’s best players during the Klopp era and with his contact due to run out next summer, there will be a host of clubs in the race for the German star’s signature. If the Red Devils are in for him, then they’ll be signing one of the world’s top midfielders who can boss their often sketchy midfield for years to come.

Read more from Jamie Thomas here.

Follow @J_T_93

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