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Ilkay Gundogan says Pep Guardiola hoped the two would ‘leave Man City together

Ilkay Gundogan has revealed that Pep Guardiola hoped the pair would leave Manchester City together as the Treble-winning captain sealed a move to Barcelona.

The 32-year-old, Guardiola’s first signing at City, lived next door to his manager and leaves the Premier League champions a legend after a collection of era-defining goals – including the iconic volley against rivals Manchester United in May’s FA Cup final.

City wanted to keep Gundogan at the Etihad Stadium but did not stretch to offering a two-year contract, while Barca settled on a deal that could extend until 2026.

‘One of the hardest calls I had to make was to Pep, telling him that I was going to leave,’ Gundogan said. ‘All I could do was to say thank you. Not just for this season, or for all the trophies, but for bringing me here in the first place.

‘I will never forget when I hurt my knee at the end of the season with Dortmund [in 2016] and I had to get surgery, I was so worried that City would pull out of the deal for me. But Pep called me on the phone and said they will wait no matter how long it takes.

‘I think maybe Pep was hoping that we would come here to City together and leave together, but I know that he understands my decision. I am sure it helps that I’m going to his boyhood club.’

Guardiola, currently on holiday with his family in Egypt, has two years remaining on his contract and is now tasked with tweaking a squad which will require new energy next season.

Mateo Kovacic’s £25million switch from Chelsea should be confirmed this week, while RB Leipzig defender Josko Gvardiol is a priority target.

Prevail Inegbenose

Prevail Inegbenose is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Spark Media & Entertainment Ventures, the Publisher of Spark News Daily - Nigeria's most sought-after online newspaper in Government, Politics, Sport, Entertainment and Religion. Prevail Inegbenose studied Mass Communication from the prestigious Auchi Polytechnic Auchi and graduated in 2007. He is an experienced journalist with 16 years of active and practical journalism. Prevail Inegbenose is the Lead Pastor, House of God Int'l - Rest Tabernacle, Abuja - Nigeria. Tel: 08039564796.

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