Watzke: Dortmund could cope with Gundogan departure

Die Schwarzgelben official Hans-Joachim Watzke hopes the Germany international will stay at Signal Iduna Park but dismissed fears the team would fall to pieces without him
Borussia Dortmund do not want to sell Ilkay Gundogan but CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke insists the club could cope without the midfielder.

The Germany international has been linked with the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid and Manchester United, though any potential move is expected to occur in the summer, given the 23-year-old is currently out with a long-term back injury.

With interest in Gundogan swelling, Watzke expressed his desire to keep hold of the player but insisted that it would not spell disaster for Die Schwarzgelben if they sold him.

"Of course you're always trying to keep your top players, this is completely normal and we want to extend Ilkay's contract," he told Sky Sport News. "But you also have to see a sale as an opportunity.

"In 2011, we lost Nuri Sahin, who was the Bundesliga player of the year and we recovered.

"Ideally, we manage it so that only one top player goes again this year, namely Robert Lewandowski."

The Pole had signed a pre-contract agreement to join Bayern Munich at the end of the season on a free transfer, just a year after the Bavarians paid €37 million to lure Mario Gotze away from Signal Iduna Park.