Inventive, intelligent box-to-box midfielder
Ilkay Gundogan moved to City having earned a reputation as an energetic, intelligent midfielder during the early stages of his career in his native Germany.
He spent time on the books of a number of clubs, including Borussia Dortmund’s arch-rivals Schalke 04, as a youth until his senior career began in earnest with a move to FC Nurnberg in 2009.
His debut did not arrive until March 2010, but following on from a handful of appearances that season he was a regular pick in the Nurnberg side that finished sixth in the 2010-11 edition of the Bundesliga.
Dortmund made their move for Gundogan following on from that impressive campaign in the summer of 2011, and it was a transfer that paid off in fine style for both club and player alike.
Gundogan’s form warranted a first senior cap for Germany against Belgium in October 2011, and he played a major role in Jurgen Klopp’s Dortmund side as it went on to claim its second successive Bundesliga title.
2012-13 saw Dortmund vie with Bayern Munich for both the German title and the Champions League, and while they were edged out by Bayern both domestically and in Europe, Gundogan’s stock continued to rise with some eye-catching performances.
City fans also had their first chance to see their future player in action at close quarters in two group stage matches in the Champions League. Dortmund went all the way to the final at Wembley, with Gundogan sending Manuel Neuer the wrong way to equalise from the penalty spot.
A niggling back injury forced Gundogan to miss virtually all the 2013-14 season, and the subsequent World Cup.
But he made a full recovery and continued to impress as Dortmund challenged for honours at home and abroad, coming up against former manager Klopp in a sensational Europa League quarter-final against Liverpool in April 2016.
Ilkay made his City debut against Borussia Monchengladbach in September 2016 and scored his first goal against Bournemouth four days later. He sustained a serious knee injury against Watford in December 2016, ruling him out for several months. He will hope for better luck in 2017/18.