With Barcelona’s current precarious financial state, the clubs have actively begun looking into free agent signings for this summer. Youssoufa Moukoko is one player that has been heavily linked with a move to the Camp Nou, with Barca very interested in signing the Borussia Dortmund forward.
With Sergio Busquets’ likely departure at the end of the season, Barca must search for a player who will operate in the club’s captain pivot role. Frenkie De Jong can play in the position, but it’s likely that a player with be brought in instead.
With these two mitigating factors, the search criteria has narrowed. N’Golo Kante is one that fits both, but he seems likely to renew his contract at Chelsea. Another who could qualify for both is Manchester City’s Ilkay Gundogan. The German international is available as a free agent, with his current deal at the Premier League champions set to expire in the summer, and MD report that Barcelona have renewed their interest.
However, question marks remain as to whether he can play as a pivot. With both Rodri and Kalvin Phillips at Manchester City this season, Gundogan’s chances of playing in the role are very slim. However, he does have experience of playing as a single pivot, having done so on numerous occasions last season for Pep Guardiola’s side.
Gundogan’s have a fantastic passing ability, and his link up play is exceptional at times. He would not look out of place in Barcelona’s midfield, so on that basis alone, he would be a very good signing, finances depending.
Even for the pivot role, he could be a great option. Although he typically plays further forward for the Citizens, he is solid defensively and has the capacity to link up with both defence and midfield. His technical ability is fantastic, and is similar to Busquets, so he could definitely work as a lone pivot.
At 32, he would bring great experience to a young midfield featuring the likes of Gavi, Pedri and Pablo Torre, especially when they’d be losing Busquets. Gundogan would be the only midfielder in his thirties at the club, so an older player would not be a bad move, even if it’s not ideal as a long term solution.
The big sticking point would be on the finances. Gundogan would likely have to take a pay cut to move to Barca, and with the club desperate to register the new contracts of Gavi and Ronald Araujo and offer a new deal to Alejandro Balde, the German midfielder may have to take even less money if he joins.
Gundogan would be a valuable addition to the Barcelona midfield. There could be an argument that his legs are slowing down as he gets older, but his footballing ability is still there for all to see. He has the versatility to place all across the midfield three, and especially in that important pivot role.
Should Barca move for Gundogan, it would simply depend on whether the midfielder is happy to take a significant pay cut to move to Catalonia.