City ‘in different league’ – Gundogan
BERLIN: Ilkay Gundogan opted to join Pep Guardiola at Manchester City because they are ‘in a different league’ compared to Germany’s top clubs, he explained in an interview published on Monday.
Gundogan signed a four-year contract with City in June after five years with Borussia Dortmund and the midfielder is in goal-scoring form.
“When I drive to (City’s) training centre by car, it’s already something very impressive,” the Germany midfielder told Kicker magazine.
“You can’t even compare it to a club like Bayern Munich, it’s in a different league.
“You can see that you have arrived at a world-class club, which has big plans and wants to really develop in the next few years.
“That carries additional pressure and responsibility for the individual players, it’s very different to Dortmund.
“It’s obvious here that one must strive to reach the highest level.”
Gundogan netted twice against Barcelona in City’s stunning 3-1 home Champions League win last week, having also scored twice in a 4-0 Premier League drubbing of West Bromwich Albion four days before.
The 26-year-old is relishing working under ex-Bayern coach Guardiola, who he had only previously known as an opposing coach.
“He doesn’t leave anything to chance and knows what to tell his players in every situation, especially in terms of tactics,” said Gundogan.
– ‘Guardiola is unique’ –
“You have the feeling that 99 percent sure isn’t enough for him, he wants to be 100 percent that what he has thought out will fit perfectly to the game and the opponent.
“For example, against Barcelona he changed the formation after half an hour from a 4-1-4-1 to a 4-4-2.
“He gave us a totally different feeling and we suddenly had the game under control.
“It’s unique the way he does that, but players from Bayern and Barcelona had already said that about him.
“And the success he has had hasn’t come by accident.
“Although Borussia managed to beat him from time to time, it was impressive for my team-mates and I how he always managed to find solutions for every situation.
“I am now experiencing that for myself and it’s really bringing me along.”
Gundogan missed Germany’s 2014 World Cup triumph in Brazil and was ruled out of Euro 2016 in June with injury.
A back problem saw him miss a full year of football from August 2013 until September the following year.
And a dislocated knee injury he suffered while playing basketball in training with Dortmund ruled him out of Euro 2016.
He has been called up for Friday’s 2018 World Cup qualifier away to San Marino and friendly in Milan against Italy four days later.
“I am really looking forward to it,” said Gundogan, who has scored four goals for Germany in 18 internationals.
“San Marino is a qualifier and Italy is a very attractive opponent, so both matches have their appeal.
“I haven’t played that many internationals, so I’ll try and take everything from it and I’m hoping to play in the Confed Cup next year.”