The boy with the friendly face. Smile and calm. Neither nerves nor bad faces in the midfield of Manchester City. Ilkay Gündogan is the errand boy. If you have to stick a leg here or steal a ball there, Gündogan takes care of it. If you have to combine short or look for a long shipment to the opposite field, more of the same. It even prowls the opponent’s area, and is lethal when stepped on..
He is a luxury secondary actor. Someone who does not raise his voice when things go wrong, but puts his grain of sand to solve the situation. A footballer who does not enjoy the popularity of his other teammates, who lives on the margins. Even last season when he became Manchester City’s main offensive threat when he acted as a false nine. Rúben Dias won all the individual awards in a campaign in which the Celestes achieved another double, the league and the League Cup.
In the season that has just ended, it has been even less prominent. Rodrigo has emerged as the ideal replacement for Fernandinho, and a Bernardo who was about to leave last summer has played the role of multi-purpose player, a task that Gündogan had been taking on. This season he has had fewer minutes, fewer games and has started fewer times than in the previous year. Despite this, his importance was paramount..
When he jumped onto the pitch on the last day, against Aston Villa, the spotlight didn’t point at him either, but Gündogan invaded the stage. Pep Guardiola was looking for a reaction, someone capable of changing the course of a match that they lost 0-1. Neither Jack Grealish was chosen, nor was the impact immediate. Coutinho extended the visiting advantage, but Gündogan played the biggest role of his career to date. He scored two goals with two relatively comfortable shots. But two important goals, after all. With them Manchester City won its eighth league. It will be necessary to see what role the Teuton develops after the performance with which he finished the 2021-22 season, and also after the rumors that have emerged in recent weeks.
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