Barcelona have serious interest in signing Manchester City’s Ilkay Gundogan on a free transfer at the end of the season as they look at Bosman deals for head coach Xavi.
The Catalan club have looked at midfielders with expiring contracts including Chelsea’s N’Golo Kante. However, the France international is edging closer to a new deal at Stamford Bridge and that has paved the way for a move to land Gundogan.
The 32-year-old has less than six months left on his contract with City and can talk to clubs about a pre-contract deal for 2023/23. Barcelona’s chances of signing him rest on whether he extends his terms at the Etihad Stadium after seven years at the club.
The Germany international was Pep Guardiola’s first signing at City when he arrived from Borussia Dortmund in 2016 and he has been an important part of four Premier League title triumphs, establishing himself in the team’s leadership group and taking over as captain following Fernandinho’s departure last summer.
His playing career has been in Germany and England but he is expected to suit Barcelona’s style of play given his time under Guardiola, whose philosophy is rooted with the club he played for and coached.
City could yet offer Gundogan – who is approaching 300 games for the club – a new deal but they have shown they at least look at transfers and whether they offer value when a world-class player comes on the market. They did so with Harry Kane when he wanted to move from Tottenham two summers ago, but a deal could not be struck.
City could do so again in central midfield if Jude Bellingham is available from Borussia Dortmund, although deals are always done on City’s terms and they do not get involved in bidding battles. West Ham’s Declan Rice could be another on the market, with Arsenal making it clear they are interested in the England midfielder in a deal worth around £70 million.
Guardiola strengthened his midfield last summer with a £45 million move for Leeds’s Kalvin Phillips, but he has suffered injury problems during the first half of his debut campaign at City. He will be expected to compete for a first-team place going forward, with Rodri the first-choice defensive midfielder.