Arsenal were keen to sign Ilkay Gundogan this summer.
Ilkay Gundogan was available on a free transfer in the summer transfer window, as his contract with Manchester City expired at the end of last season.
The midfielder ultimately signed for Barcelona, despite Pep Guardiola wanting to keep him at the Etihad Stadium. However, Arsenal were also keen on signing Gundogan themselves, as reported by The Guardian.
Mikel Arteta is an admirer of Gundogan, stemming from the time he spent working as Guardiola’s assistant manager, prior to his appointment at the Emirates Stadium. It is easy to see why both Spanish coaches are so keen on the 67-cap Germany international.
Gundogan was instrumental to much of Manchester City’s success in recent seasons. No more so than in his last campaign with the club, when he captained them to a Premier League, FA Cup, and Champions League treble, scoring 11 goals in 51 matches along the way.
Gundogan would have brought plenty of quality and experience to Arsenal. Arteta is working with a youthful squad, and lost key experience from it this summer with Granit Xhaka’s departure. Gundogan would have been able to guide many of the Gunners’ young stars, leading by example, and bringing knowledge of what it takes to win the biggest prizes in the game to the dressing room.
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Gundogan explains summer decision
However, it seems that the former Borussia Dortmund man had his heart set on a switch to La Liga. Speaking to German publication Bild, he said, “I’m honest. And many people don’t know this: In the end, it wasn’t about a year or two. 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 FC Barcelona.”
Ultimately, Arteta was able to add to his midfield contingent, with Kai Havertz and Declan Rice joining Arsenal, the latter for a club-record fee of £105 million. Both have plenty of Premier League experience and have played key roles in silverware-winning successes before.
Despite this, Arteta may still wish he had been able to tempt Gundogan to north London. The 32-year-old would have provided additional strength in depth and been a strong positive influence in the dressing room.