Ilkay Gundogan insists he is “very happy” at Manchester City, although he was coy when asked whether he will sign a contract extension with the club.
Gundogan’s contract expires in the summer of 2020 and he has said that he would be willing to wait until next season before making a final decision on whether to sign a new deal, indicating that neither he nor the club are in a rush.
But Pep Guardiola cast some doubt on the German’s future at City on Friday, saying that “if he was 100 per cent then the deal would have been done”.
Guardiola’s comments suggest City would have liked to have concluded negotiations by now, and it was put to Gundogan that that could be taken as a sign of his discontent at the Etihad Stadium.
“No, that’s not a sign at all,” the 28-year-old told reporters. “I’m very happy here, I just think that these kind of things… especially as I’m not the youngest any more, just need sometimes a little bit of time, you know?
“The club doesn’t rush me, I don’t rush myself, so I have still more than one year to go so I try to see it relaxed and then we will see.”
Gundogan was then asked whether he wants to stay at the club, to which he gave a somewhat cryptic response: “I think in terms of playing football, in terms of enjoying the game, at the moment in Europe there is not really a better place than here.”
He was then asked two questions simultaneously; whether his previous response meant ‘yes’, and about Guardiola’s desire for him to stay.
Answering the latter, he replied: “Obviously that’s a great sign when one of the greatest managers asks you to stay in this team.”
Gundogan played a key role in City’s 1-0 win at Bournemouth on Sunday, helping to restrict the Cherries to zero shots on target and zero corners from his deep-lying midfield role.
Riyad Mahrez scored the only goal of the game and while the scoreline suggests a close encounter, Gundogan was clear about the nature of the game.
“We were very dominant, that was my feeling,” he added. “We had a lot of possession, obviously it’s always hard when your opponent is so tight, so defensive, five at the back, four in midfield, it makes it a little harder, especially when they defend in front of their goal, that’s why we may have struggled to have clear chances in the first half but I think we did it well.”
Gundogan is filling in for the injured Fernandinho at the back of City’s midfield, a role that has proven relatively troublesome this season.
City failed to sign competition for Fernandinho last summer, leading to Guardiola using Gundogan, John Stones and Danilo in the Brazilian’s absence, and wondering whether Kevin De Bruyne, Fabian Delph and Oleksandr Zinchenko could do the job.
Gundogan has not always shone in the position but he has looked assured in City’s last two matches, and he appears to be getting to grips with his new instructions.
“Yeah obviously it’s another job, it’s different to playing as an offensive midfielder when you have to wait a little bit in the spaces between the back five and the midfield row, so you have a lot of responsibility in terms of having defensive stability.
"So that’s why you have to take care, especially when your opponent has pacey players up front like Bournemouth had. But like I say I think we controlled everything quite well and for me it’s just another job, I just have to be aware that I’m not really allowed to go much up front, but that’s fine, I know we have a lot of quality there so I just try to fulfil my role in that position and when we are able to not concede and win the game I am also very happy.”