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Barcelona new signing on the club’s Champions League chances: “The reality is different”



Photo by JAVIER SORIANO/AFP via Getty Images

Ilkay Gundogan’s start to life in Barcelona has been special. The German maestro has taken over as the team’s primary creative midfielder alongside Pedri and is the focal point in the youngster’s absence.

In five official appearances for the Blaugranas so far, the veteran has provided two assists and averages a staggering 2.4 key passes per game. His importance in Xavi’s setup cannot be understated.

The German international recently gave an elaborate interview as relayed by El Pais. As part of the same, he spoke in detail about his time at Barcelona, his role in the team, and his early sensations.

He began by addressing the elephant in the room – Barcelona’s chances in the UEFA Champions League. As the former captain of the defending champions, he gave his honest two cents and compared Barcelona to his former employers, saying,

“I’ve been at City for seven years, and obviously I’m comparing things. Although we don’t always win everything, in the last two or three years we’ve been able to have a very beautiful way of playing,” he began commenting on the topic.

He went on to add the realistic chance the Catalans had to go all the way, saying, “I would like to win the Champions League again, but I know that the reality in Barcelona is different, we are in the process of building. We have a very young team but with a lot of potential and quality.”

Speaking on how it was to work with Xavi Hernandez at his new club, Gundogan sang praises of the manager’s achievement at the club so far.

“He is really very good and he has proven that. With all the difficulties the club is going through, winning the league and the Super Cup was a great success, and I think the main credit goes to the coach.”

“When things go wrong we quickly look to the coach, but when things go well we forget to do so. Now that I work with him when I see him talking before and during matches, there are many things that are similar to what I see or things I used to do with Pep at City,” he added, comparing the manager to the current Manchester City coach.

The German midfielder then touched on the quality Barcelona have displayed on the field so far this season and the areas to improve on.

“This season we are playing good football. It is true that we conceded some goals in two matches, and these are mistakes that cannot be committed at the highest level, especially now in Champions League matches, but I admire Xavi’s work,” he concluded on the manager’s topic.

He was then asked to comment on his versatility on the field which enabled him to operate in multiple positions in the middle of the park.

“There are two types of football players. The kind of person who changes the game, scores goals, makes assists and does special things on the pitch. Then there are the type of players who don’t shine much on an individual level, who seem invisible.”

“But, if you ask the rest of your colleagues, even the outstanding ones will tell you that they are the most important. Those who make things simple for everyone, those who improve their teammates, like Busquets for example,” he added on the second category of players, presumably naming himself a part of the same group.

Gundogan is already a key player. (Photo by Eric Alonso/Getty Images)

Gundogan then cleared the air around his earlier statement and confirmed that he preferred to be a silent worker rather than one who made a visible impact.

“I think [I prefer] being invisible, it’s more in line with my personality, I’m not the person who needs attention. I know what I am capable of and what I can do. To become a great player, you have to know what you do well and how you can bring those things you do well into the team.”

“I am a flexible and adaptable player, and I can change even during the same match for the benefit of the team,” he added.

The treble-winning captain was then asked if he felt he would be a good manager in the future if he went down that path.

“I don’t want to sound arrogant, but I think I have the potential. I was also lucky to work with the best coaches. I spent seven years with Guardiola, four with Klopp, one year with Tuchel, and now I have Xavi,” he said.

“These types of personalities affect you in one way or another. I’ve seen a lot of things to become a good coach, but I’m still not 100% sure I want my life to go in this direction,” Gundogan added.

The Barcelona midfielder then weighed in on training sessions and how it was imperative to put in the effort for results to be visible on the field.

“I see training from a perspective similar to matches. I don’t want to make mistakes. I want to pass to the right player. Everything has to be perfect.”

Manchester City won the treble under Ilkay Gundogan’s captaincy. The German international played a key role in the team’s run across all competitions, both as a player and a leader. Speaking on his brand of leadership, he said,

“Calm leadership. Sometimes it seems that if you don’t get attention or if you don’t shout, you will never be recognized as a leader. For me: The leader is the one who changes the pace of the team, and the one who changes the course of the match. He doesn’t have to scream.”

“I only speak when I think there is something important to say,” he added on his leadership.

The new signing was then faced with the question of his long-standing affection for Barcelona as a fan and the numerous role models he had in Catalonia.

“Yes, for me as a midfielder, it was impossible not to care about the team in which Xavi, Iniesta and Busquets played. The way they played, how they moved on the field. I loved the Ronaldinho era and of course Messi too.”

However, he admitted to not having spoken with Xavi Hernandez specifically about the aforementioned topic.

“I don’t think so, but I’m sure he knew. We are very similar in the way we think about football.”

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