Pep Guardiola is still well over a month away from officially taking up his post as Manchester City boss, but Txiki Begiristain is already at it securing the players Guardiola eyes as crucial to a turnaround at the Etihad.
Multiple media outlets in England and Germany are reporting City are closing in a deal for 25-year-old central midfielder Ilkay Gundogan. Reports from Germany label the price on the German international at about £20 Million.
Ilkay Gundogan is likely to announce he will be joining Manchester City soon, despite his injury. [Ruhr Nachrichten] pic.twitter.com/Ca5xo8oRHI— City Watch (@City_Watch) May 22, 2016
Gundogan will miss this summer's European championships with a dislocated knee cap and likely won't be cleared for action until September, meaning he will miss City's summer tour, the Champions League playoff and a handful of Premier League fixtures.
Regardless, Guardiola has eyed the midfielder he's had to coach against the last three seasons for a reason.
He's found his new Xabi Alonso.
Guardiola secured the services of Alonso from Real Madrid in his second season in Munich and helped revitalize the career of the now 34-year-old Spanish midfielder.
He completed over 90 percent of his passes and scored five goals and six assists in just under 4,000 minutes of Bundesliga action and 1,500 minutes in the Champions League.
FourFourTwo broke down the ridiculous plethora of formations Pep Guardiola used early this season in Bayern's runaway Bundesliga season, most of which had Alonso either sitting in front of the back four or occupying an upward midfield position where he'd lay in key passes to Bayern's creative players.
No doubt, this is the role Gundogan will play at Guardiola's Manchester City.
The statistics are similar. Gundogan completed 87.8 percent of his Bundesliga passes this season and 85.5 percent the year before. This season he recorded a career-best WhoScored rating of 7.43 in just under 2,000 minutes prior to his season-ending knee injury, topping Xabi Alonso's 7.15 rating.
Gundogan's role in this transfer window will be similar to Fernandinho's impact three seasons ago. He's netted only four goals and seven assists in his last two Bundesliga campaigns. He won't often linger around the goal.
Three seasons ago Fernandinho's arrival allowed Yaya Toure to push forward and blast in 20 goals to see City to its second Premier League title in three seasons. Fernandinho struggled last season but may have been the team's unsung hero this season helping the club survive as a Champions League qualifier.
Similarly, it will be Gundogan who will help set the calming tone of total football that will allow Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane (fingers crossed!) to interweave and terrorize the goal with Sergio Aguero and Kelechi Iheanacho up front.
Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Müller scored 50 of Bayern's 80 Bundesliga goals this season between the two of them. City, who may splash for Juventus and Real Madrid forward Alvaro Morata, already possess most of the goal-scoring assets Guardiola will need to fashion this club to his image.
Iheanacho's xG numbers through 600 minutes are very close to Harry Kane's numbers in his first 600 minutes (before his 14-15 breakout).— Michael Caley (@MC_of_A) May 1, 2016
City need to be fine-tuned everywhere else. Aymeric Laporte and John Stones may be on the way to shore up an inconsistent and not often healthy central defense. Joe Hart may be in for some youthful competition. And while I haven't read much about City looking at fullbacks, we'd all like to see City bring in reinforcements in that area.
The futures of Fabian Delph, Fernandinho and Fernando are now all up in the air. That's partly because of the arrival of City's most important piece of this summer window: Stability in the central midfield.
Welcome to City, Ilkay Gundogan.