Despite the German international having just 18 months remaining on his current deal, Manchester City’s Ilkay Gundogan has admitted he is in no rush to put pen to paper on an extension, which will keep him at the club beyond 2020.
Having overcome a slew of injury problems which plagued him both at Borussia Dortmund and in the early parts of his City career, Gundogan has forced himself back into Pep Guardiola’s plans and established himself as a key cog in the Blues’ team.
However, with the former 1. FC Nürnberg man turning 29 before the end of this year, he is well aware that his next big contract could be his last at the highest level.
Being in the final year of his contract, Gundogan admitted that he now faces a dilemma many players struggle with- the ceaseless debate on whether to stay, or opt for a new challenge.
Speaking to German newspaper Bild, Gundogan said: “It’s become the norm that a player who has another year on his contract period has a decision between separation or extension.
“I’m a little old-fashioned. It’s possible that I will go to the last year of my contract and then extend.”
Evidently, City’s midfield dynamo is determined to weigh up his options over the next 12 months, before making a decision on whether the playing time he gets at City is enough for him to commit potentially the last years of his prime to. Thankfully for Gundogan, there seems to be little pressure from City in urging the German to sign an extension, he revealed in the same interview.
“Maybe the next one will be my last big contract, so such a decision must be well considered. We have already had one or two talks. I do not feel there is pressure on the subject.”
City are sparkling…
Having picked up Premier League, EFL Cup and Community Shield winner’s medals to go with his Bundesliga and DFB Pokal honours from Germany during his time at the Etihad Stadium, Gundogan is well aware of the club’s stature and position at the peak of the European game.
With that in mind, Gundogan assured the City faithful that if he were to leave the club, it would be in no way due to a lack of sporting success on the Blues part.
“In sporting terms, I’m very satisfied with City - there are less attractive jobs in Europe!” he chuckled.
“In this regard, there is nothing to prevent an extension. But nothing is decided yet.”
…but Ilkay not at his best
Despite acknowledging his club’s on-field brilliance, however, Gundogan seemed less assured of his own individual showings since joining the club at the start of the 2016/17 season. In spite of his five goals in 21 Premier League outings this season, he remains unconvinced on whether he was truly able to replicate his best form in Manchester.
“It's hard to judge if I'm the best Gundogan ever,” he said.
“I also had very good periods at Dortmund.”
One area in which he is happy to have improved however is his fitness record, with the German citing various lifestyle changes as a factor in reducing his injury-proneness.
"In the meantime, however, I also realise that I have to pay close attention to my body. I need to sleep well - at least seven hours – and eat well.”
Ultimately, it appears that despite City fans’ appreciation for their number 8, they will be made to wait, at least until the end of the season, for a final verdict on whether the man affectionately known as ‘Gundo’ stays or goes.