Ilkay Gundogan has admitted that Xavi played a huge role in persuading him to leave Manchester City for Barcelona.
The 32-year-old lifted the UEFA Champions League in June to complete a famous treble for City, bringing the curtain down on a trophy-laden career at the Etihad Stadium.
City had hoped to persuade Gundogan to sign a new one-year contract with an option for a further 12 months, but he decided to take up the challenge and join Barcelona, who wrested the La Liga title from Real Madrid last season.
Gundogan was unveiled as a Barcelona player on Monday afternoon, where he gave an insight into how a conversation with Xavi convinced him now was the time to move.
“The first moment we spoke I just felt it was the right thing to come here, join the club and have the opportunity to prove myself at another club and another country,” Gundogan said. “I’ve come close to coming here twice before, but it wasn’t meant to be. Now is the time.”
“Xavi has been very clear about how he wants the team to play. It’s very similar to how we played at Man City. It’s a similar school, Guardiola, Xavi… In the way he approached the interviews, the honesty that he I saw my own character reflected in it.
“It probably wasn’t so much what he said, but how he said it, which is sometimes more important.
Pep Guardiola has been the driving force behind City’s desire to keep Gundogan after he became captain of the German club following Fernandinho’s departure in 2022. And their close relationship is why Gundogan made sure his manager was the first person to be informed of his decision. move.
“It was important to me that he knew first,” Gundogan revealed. “I expressed my gratitude to him, in a way I think he was happy and that if I need anything about the club and the city, I will ask him for advice.
“It’s not so much that Pep is missing [something]. I’ve known him well, for seven years, but I like challenges and constantly surpassing myself. The only thing that the coach and the club have convinced me is that my desire to sign for the club is very increased.”
Gundogan has proven his credentials time and time again at City, but he also stressed: “It’s an opportunity to show who I am, a new team, a new country, a new city and even though I’m old, I still have something to show. .”