Pep Guardiola facing huge hole to fill as Man City favourite decides on ‘new challenge’

Borussia Dortmund midfielder Jude Bellingham battling Man City star Ilkay Gundogan Credit: Alamy
Borussia Dortmund midfielder Jude Bellingham battling Man City star Ilkay Gundogan Credit: Alamy

Ilkay Gundogan could already be in his final season with Manchester City, whose expectations over his future are sinking in, according to a report.

Gundogan was Pep Guardiola’s first signing with Manchester City back in 2016, but it is over the past couple of years that he has really flourished. Indeed, he has hit double figures of goals in each of the past two seasons.

In recognition of his increasing importance, Manchester City made him their captain over the summer after the departure of Fernandinho.

However, his tenure could be short lived, since he is out of contract at the end of the season. And according to Football Insider, Manchester City are starting to think he might not renew.

It would not be in conjunction with their own plans. The Premier League champions would prefer to keep Gundogan and have been in touch with his representatives. The ball is firmly in his court over whether he wants to stay.

Despite this, talks have failed to yield an agreement so far. As a result, a feeling is growing that Gundogan would favour a “new challenge”.

Only time will tell what that might look like. The report notes that there would be interested parties both in the Premier League and in Europe.

Having recently turned 32 years old, several clubs still seem to think Gundogan is worth investing in. With his recent form, it is easy to see why.

He has made 269 appearances for Manchester City to date, contributing 51 goals and 34 assists. In the Premier League, there have been 38 goals from 167 appearances.

Gundogan influential for Man City, but champions keep evolving

To date, Guardiola has only ever given more appearances to three players in his managerial career. Gundogan is dependable and impactful, so would be useful for Manchester City to keep.

They seem to be resigned to their potential fate, though. After investing more than £20million in him in the first place, it would be a financial blow as well as a sporting one.

That said, Manchester City have got their money’s worth out of Gundogan. What’s more, they have proven in recent years that they can regenerate their team and sustain success.

For instance, over the summer they said goodbye to the likes of Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus, but are still keeping pace in the Premier League title race and sit second as they aim to defend their crown.

Manchester City have until January 1 to try and convince Gundogan, or else they could lose him on a pre-contract agreement to a foreign suitor.

He was linked with the likes of Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Juventus and Roma over the summer, although he obviously ended up staying put in Manchester.

They may also face a decision as to whether or not to try and cash in on him while they can then, unless they retain a glimmer of hope that he would extend his stay at the Etihad Stadium.

READ MORE: Pundit questions Pep Guardiola stance as Erik ten Hag told real gap between Man City and Man Utd

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