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Ilkay Gundogan’s wife makes surprise Manchester City u-turn in Barcelona exit insight



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Sara Gundogan has provided insight into Ilkay Gundogan’s decision to leave Manchester City for Barcelona last summer.

The 33-year-old midfielder rejected the opportunity to sign a new contract at the Etihad Stadium in favour of a free transfer to Barcelona, despite suggestions that the German international would extend his stay at Manchester City.

Gundogan was Pep Guardiola’s first signing in 2016, with the central midfielder leading Manchester City to an historic treble last season, as well as winning a further 11 trophies during his seven-stay with the club.

The midfielder famously scored twice against Aston Villa to dramatically guide Manchester City to the Premier League title in May 2022, and also scored 17 goals during the 2020/21 title-winning campaign.

As well as crucial Premier League goals, Gundogan scored both goals in the Emirates FA Cup Final against Manchester United in June, including an emphatic volley just seconds into the clash at Wembley Stadium.

Gundogan made 304 appearances for Manchester City and was subject to interest from a number of European and Middle Eastern clubs throughout the final months of his contract, before signing for Barcelona in late June.

The German’s exit forced Guardiola to make two midfield signings last summer, with the club expected to be in the market again next summer in an attempt to further bolster the Blues’ central midfield.

Despite making a switch to Spain after criticising Manchester, Sara Gundogan has revealed her ‘shock’ at the 33-year-olds transfer decision, and that she does ‘miss’ the north west city.

Speaking to the Mail Sport, she said: “I didn’t really believe those (rumours about joining Barcelona). Every summer and January, in every transfer market people would always come to me with rumours. 

“Some people even used to text me to say “you’re coming to Italy?” and I was never taking anything seriously. I had friends texting me saying I was coming back, and I was like, ‘no’. It just happened. And the funny fact is that I didn’t take it seriously.

“I was like, no it cannot be because my husband is many years here in Manchester and I don’t see this happening.

“I was in Italy, it was holiday time. It was my first holiday with my baby and I went to meet all my friends. So I was a bit in my bubble, let’s say baby bubble. And I just got a phone call and it was like “we are going there”. I wasn’t taking it seriously. I don’t know if it was a shock. So it took me a bit of time to realise what was happening.

“Every players calls Barcelona their dream team from when they were a child. So, when I was asked, I wasn’t asked any technical things. And I always say follow your dreams. I cannot advise in a different way anyway.

“I’m really proud of my husband because it is not easy at his age to think I want a new challenge when you’re comfortable and the captain of another team. Being so successful at City too then wanting a new challenge is always a risk.

“So I’m really proud that he took risk and for him it was a childhood dream to play for Barcelona.”

Discussing life in Catalonia, Sara Gundogan added: “It’s different. The city is really nice and it’s right by the sea. So it’s another lifestyle. I feel as if it’s more a holiday. 

“It’s not like the life we used to have before because it’s a really touristy place with a lot of people. We still haven’t found a place that we can call home but of course, it takes time.”