‘Hardest call of my life’ - Ilkay Gundogan reveals why he left Man City to join Barcelona
The former Manchester City midfielder discussed the reasons he decided to depart the club in the summer.
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Ilkay Gundogan has revealed he left Manchester City last summer as the club’s contract offer came too late in the season.
The German international departed the Etihad over the summers after seven years with the club, and Gundogan bowed out by lifting City’s maiden Champions League trophy. The midfielder joined Barcelona when his contract expired in July and has started all four La Liga matches since signing for the Spanish champions.
But speculation surrounding Gundogan’s future was a hot topic during the final months of the season, with Pep Guardiola even admitting in May that he wanted the player to remain at the club. Gundogan revealed he might have stayed in Manchester, if the club’s offer had been received earlier.
“I'm honest. And many people don't know this: In the end, it wasn't about a year or two [being offer],” the 32-year-old told Bild. “There was no problem with the running time. City waited a relatively long time until the talks really intensified.
“If this had happened a little earlier, the situation would have been different. So in the end it was the perfect ending, it couldn't have come at a better time. It was also my childhood dream to play for Barcelona.
“I don't want to go into the minute details, but it was quite late in the season,” Gundogan continued, when asked when exactly City’s offer was made. “And when it comes to a Champions League quarter-final or semi-final, players want to concentrate purely on sport.
“I didn't know what would happen next. I couldn't plan anything. Pep's appreciation was always there, but officially there was no movement from the club for a long time. Until May, there was little reason for me to want to change. The triple victory was of course a crowning achievement. But that couldn't have been planned.”
Gundogan revealed that he and fellow departee Riyad Mahrez held a farewell party before leaving City, that was attended by the players. However, Guardiola wasn’t present and Gundogan described saying goodbye to his manager was ‘the hardest phone call’ he’s ever made.
“Unfortunately, I didn't say goodbye in person because I only made the decision after the Champions League final, two days before the DFB [Germany] game against Colombia. That was probably the hardest phone call I've ever had in my life,” said the Barcelona star.
“The conversation was emotional, but Pep was also happy for me. I switched to the club that was close to his heart and his childhood, so to speak - and as a fan he was very happy about that. He also told me: If I need anything, I should contact him at any time. It was brilliant to experience Pep as a coach. This will help me a lot over the next few years.”