After months of speculation surrounding his future, Ilkay Gundogan has finally confirmed that he is leaving Manchester City after seven sensational years. Gundogan leaves behind a remarkable legacy at the Etihad Stadium as he has played a huge part in the club's success under Pep Guardiola. The German won the Premier League five times and the Champions League once, all while scoring a series of pivotal goals for the Blues.
The 32-year-old has agreed a deal with Barcelona that will take him to the Camp Nou for the next two seasons at least, although if he maintains his current level then his stay in Catalonia could quite easily be extended. He will become the 8th German to wear the famous red and blue strip and he has said that it was the only club he would have left Manchester City for.
But just where will Gundogan fit into the Barcelona team and who will have to make way for the German? Let's take a look at the three most likely scenarios.
Gundogan as one of the two eights
Given he was one of Barcelona's top transfer targets, the most logical position for Ilkay Gundogan to play would be in his best position – which is as a number eight. Gundogan, in many ways, is the benchmark for this position – He is equally adept at carrying the ball forward as he is playing a quick, forward pass while his ball retention levels are superb. He combines well with other midfielders – see Rodri and De Bruyne at Manchester City for example – and he has an eye for goal.
At Barcelona, Xavi sets up with one holding midfielder and two eights which is slightly different to the system he is used to at Manchester City but not worlds apart. With Busquets out the door, either Frenkie de Jong or Franck Kessie are expected to play as the deep-lying midfielder with Gundogan set to partner either Gavi or Pedri as the eights.
Gundogan at the base of the midfield
If Xavi is insistent on continuing the partnership of Gavi and Pedri in midfield then the only place for Gundogan in the starting lineup would be as the number six. Sergio Busquets, the man who has had this position locked down for Barcelona for over a decade, has left the club this summer meaning this position is very much available in the Barcelona starting lineup.
While Frenkie De Jong and Franck Kessie are perhaps more suited to this role, Gundogan has played deep for Manchester City in the past when the likes of Rodri and Fernandinho have been unavailable and performed well. The more you think about it, the more it makes sense.
Gundogan as a ten in a change of formation
Another possibility with the departure of Busquets is a change in formation at Barcelona. Although the club is famed for playing 4-3-3, Xavi may feel like a change is needed if they are to compete with the best in the Champions League next season. In 22/23, Barcelona were knocked out of the competition in the group stages and looked easy to play against in the middle of the park.
One way for Xavi to change this would be to set up with two holding midfielders and a number ten. The only midfielder at the club who would be able to play as a ten, and do a good job, is Gundogan. The German showed his goalscoring prowess at the back end of last season with some huge goals, including two volleys from outside the box in the FA Cup final. Could this work at Barcelona? Maybe we'll get to find out.