Gündogan describes Champions League as trophy Manchester City crave most

<span>Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian</span>
Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian

Ilkay Gündogan has described the Champions League as the trophy Manchester City want “more than all the others” and said the team’s preparations for the final on Saturday against Internazionale in Istanbul, where they will seek to claim the treble, will be “simple”.

Gündogan’s two goals against Manchester United in the FA Cup final on Saturday secured City the Double and made it a case of one more to go as they look to match their neighbours’ triumph of 1999. It was also the 11th major trophy of Guardiola’s tenure at City since he arrived there in the summer of 2016. Under him, the club have won five Premier League titles, two FA Cups and four League Cups.

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Yet Gündogan is clear that Europe’s premier prize, which Guardiola has not claimed since 2011, when he was in charge of Barcelona, is the one City really want. “Obviously we already have two titles but we know we want this one even more than all the other ones before and that is our target for next week,” the captain said. “What we have done in the last few months is amazing.”

Despite the scale of what City will achieve if they overcome Inter at the weekend, Gündogan insisted there has been little talk of the treble at the club. “Not really much, to be honest with you,” he said. “We were chasing Arsenal for a long time in the Premier League so we were mainly focused on trying to win our next game every single time. We have been doing amazingly. The same goes for the FA Cup and Champions League.

“So there was not much time to think as we had games every three or four days and we just wanted to win the next one.”

Ilkay Gündogan lifts the FA Cup
Gündogan’s two goals enabled Manchester City to win the FA Cup against their derby rivals. Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian

Looking ahead to the contest at Istanbul’s Ataturk Stadium, Gündogan said City’s buildup will be low-key. “We will have a couple of days off, we will be able to recover and then start our training again,” the 32-year-old said. “It is about doing the same things that we’ve been doing for the last two weeks. We don’t have to do anything special. I think the simplicity of doing our things makes us special. It is about putting effort into the training sessions, preparing ourselves as well as possible and going to Istanbul and trying to win the game.”

Gündogan’s future is unclear given his contract expires in the close season and he is yet to agree to a new deal. He has been linked with a move to Arsenal, though Guardiola is keen for the German, who has been outstanding this season, to remain in situ. “I don’t need these kind of days [winning the Cup and title] to feel appreciated and feel special in this club,” Gündogan said. “I know that and that is why I have been here seven years. Nothing is decided yet, we will see what will happen. I’m feeling fit, I’m feeling in form, I’m feeling good. I don’t know if that is the best football I’ve ever played. Maybe not, to be honest.

“In terms of scoring and numbers, I guess I have become better in recent years. But personally it is not something I identify myself with. Of course, if I get in the right position to score I’m going to try my best but I don’t define myself by the numbers. I look at performances and also remember in recent years I was in really, really good form so I can’t say it is the best football I’ve ever played.”