German international Ilkay Gundogan has reportedly given the green light to become Barcelona's first summer signing, as per Barca Universal. The news comes following the announcement of Sergio Busquets' exit at the end of the season, leaving Barcelona in need of a new midfielder.
Coach Xavi Hernandez has been hunting for a new player to operate in the pivot position and complement the interior midfielders. For a while, Hernandez set his sights on Real Sociedad's Martin Zubimendi, but the hefty €60 million release clause has practically ruled out that option.
This leaves Gundogan as a valuable option for Barca. However, the former Spanish midfielder was initially picky when signing a midfielder as he wanted a specialist in the defensive midfield spot. Nevertheless, it appears the operation is taking shape, with Gundogan giving his approval to Xavi for the transfer.
The 32-year-old German international will be out of contract at the end of the ongoing season. Pep Guardiola has reportedly told him he is free to move if and when a suitable offer comes. Gundogan has been heavily involved in Manchester City's midfield duties this season alongside Bernardo Silva and Kevin de Bruyne. He has scored seven goals and assisted six more in 46 games this season.
Barcelona has been waiting for Gundogan's approval. The club will likely offer him a three-year contract with a lower salary package than he currently earns at Manchester City. Other top clubs across Europe have also taken note of Gundogan's situation and are likely to pursue him. But the lucrative sporting project offered by Barcelona seems to have swayed the German international.
If the transfer goes through, Gundogan will likely serve as the short-term replacement for Busquets before the club signs a new midfielder. How this will affect Barca's overall transfer strategy remains to be seen. But securing Gundogan's signature would undoubtedly be a significant coup for the club.
Real Sociedad midfielder dismisses Barcelona and Arsenal transfer links
Real Sociedad midfielder Martin Zubimendi has denied rumors linking him with Barcelona and Arsenal, saying he has never planned to leave the club. The 24-year-old has been in impressive form this season, catching the attention of several top European clubs.
Zubimendi has insisted that he is happy at Real Sociedad and has no intention of leaving anytime soon. He told the Spanish outlet MARCA:
"I have never planned to leave Real Sociedad – I always say that. I love life here, at home, I'm so happy here."
The midfielder added that he feels the same values as the club and is happy to be a part of it. Zubimendi's statement will come as a blow to Barca and Arsenal, who were both reportedly interested in signing the young midfielder this summer.
Zubimendi has one goal and three assists to his name in 39 appearances for the Spanish club.