Ilkay Gündogan will sign for Barcelona on a free transfer, ending Manchester City’s hopes of keeping the influential midfielder. The 32‑year‑old, who was captain and a pivotal figure in City’s treble‑winning side – scoring twice in the FA Cup final – has agreed a two-year deal with Barça, with an option for a further year. Gündogan’s contract at City was due to expire at the end of the month.
City understand that Gündogan reached the agreement to join Barcelona and he leaves with the champions’ blessing and respect. They offered the German a new one-year contract with the option of a further 12 months but his wage demands plus the Catalan club offering him three years means City are comfortable with him departing, given their midfield options.
They would also point to a track record of allowing other players over 30 to leave when the time was correct. These would include Yaya Touré, Sergio Agüero, Fernandinho and Pablo Zabaleta.
Pep Guardiola had told reporters at a golf tournament on Monday: “We are interested in renewing his contract and [Barcelona] are also interested. I hope he stays with us. We are still fighting for him to stay with us. He is a player we want to stay – and we will do all we can – but we know Barça want him.
“If Barça sign him, they will have a spectacular footballer on their hands. I am aware Xavi [Barcelona’s manager] has called him a lot. If, in the end, he picks Barça, I will tell him he will enjoy himself.”
City enjoy strength in depth in all departments but could also lose Bernardo Silva in the transfer window this summer. Silva, like many Premier League players, has reportedly received interest from the Saudi Pro League.
Speculation about the future of the 28-year-old, whose current deal runs until 2025, has led to links with Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona. City and Guardiola are keen that the midfielder remains in Manchester.
In response to Gündogan’s departure, City have immediately bulked up their midfield options by signing Mateo Kovacic from Chelsea for a fee of £25m plus £5m in add-ons.
Kovacic had been a key player for Chelsea since joining from Real Madrid on a five-year deal in 2019, having initially arrived on loan. The Croat entered the final year of his contract and departs with Chelsea undergoing a squad overhaul after the arrival of Mauricio Pochettino as manager.