Manchester City's Ilkay Gundogan has opened up on players who have shaped his career, naming former Borussia Dortmund team-mate Mario Gotze as 'incredible' and 'overwhelming' amongst a list of the game's greats.
Gundogan swapped Germany for England in 2016 and has since won the Premier League, the Carabao Cup and the Community Shield as part of a star-studded team that many feel play some of the slickest football to date.
When asked to name his most memorable team-mate, however, it was his national team colleague that first came to mind.
“There was a guy I found incredible in training,” Gundogan told DAZN show Talking Tactics. “A player I thought 'What is he doing? Is he only 18 or 19?'
“That player was Mario Gotze. He did things in training that made me think 'Wow. If he doesn't make it all the way to the top then I don't know!' That was overwhelming for me.
“I've tried to defend against him many times, but you just don't get the ball. Whether the ball is in the air or at his feet, you can't separate him from it.
“He always makes the right decisions, whether he's dribbling or picking out a pass.”
Of course, Gotze wasn't the only player Gundogan has been inspired by, with the 28-year-old seemingly a big fan of midfielders who have plied their trade in La Liga.
“I liked to watch Kaka very, very much,” he went on. “The way he played with tremendous pace with the ball at his feet, he just left opponents behind. Watching him was a feast for the eyes.
“Then, of course, there was Xavi and Andres Iniesta; small, agile and inseparable – they always made the right decisions and played great passes.
“Iniesta makes the game look easy, but it's not. On the contrary, it's very difficult. I don't think people appreciate it enough when they watch him on TV.
“He played brutal passes and was always flawless – it felt like he was floating. For simplicity, there is no better player than Iniesta.”
Gundogan often plays alongside another Spaniard in David Silva, whom he also rates as one of the best, but added that expressing individual personality should always come before trying to emulate another.
“You learn more about football in general when you watch players like David,” he said. “He's extremely good in tight spaces, at decision-making and playing the right passes.
“If you have a midfielder like him who can play passes like he does... I don't want to be a defender! It doesn't matter if you're marking him or cutting his passing lanes, both are extremely difficult.
“Nevertheless, one should always be careful when looking to others for inspiration. You shouldn't want to imitate people if it doesn't fit with your own style.”