This time of year is exciting for all football fans. Domestic leagues are quickly coming to an end. Chelsea, Bayern Munich, and Juventus have already won their respective leagues while other teams may have to wait to be crowned champions on the very last week of fixtures. The fight for spots in next year’s Champions League, Europa League and relegation battles, keep all teams on their toes as the 2014-2015 campaign comes to a dramatic close. The second leg of the Champions League starts on Tuesday and fans of the four remaining European giants hope to see their team advance to the final in Berlin.
Another exciting aspect that the close of the season offers to footy fans is the innumerable amount of transfer rumours that we hear of. It seems that every season, every possible player is linked to every possible club. This causes many great debates between soccer fans, as the transfer drama is a big aspect of their club’s future aspirations.
For Barcelona fans, year after year, we are treated with rumors of getting the best and brightest that the football world has to offer. Whispers of elite players joining Barcelona are expected. Though some transfers may seem unrealistic, it is still exciting to speculate who Barca’s next big signing may be.
As of late, a lot of talk has been made of Ilkay Gündogan coming to Camp Nou in January. The German central midfielder has hinted at his apparent willingness to join Barca once the transfer ban has been completed. The Dortmund star told German SID, "Barcelona are a great club, but there are many great clubs out there." He then cleared up his stance by saying, "if I don't renew my contract that doesn't mean I won't stay until 2016. I'm not hell-bent on leaving by force and would be prepared to stay for another year if that suited both sides."
It seems that, sooner or later, Gündogan is set to join Barca. At the age of 24, he can be a long-term replacement for Xavi, and even Sergio Busquets, depending on where Luis Enrique (if he decides to stay at Barcelona next season) deploys him on the pitch. I took a look at Gündogan’s statistical numbers in the Bundesliga this year and compared them to Barca’s five most used midfielders in La Liga. Gündogan, a very technical and smart player, would have to compete for a starting role with the likes of Andrés Iniesta, Ivan Rakitić, and Rafinha.
First of all, I would like to give a bit of background to this exciting player’s career up to now. Ilkay Gündogan, born in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, was given his Bundesliga debut with FC Nürnberg in the 2009-2010 season at the young age of 18. He made 48 appearances, scoring 6 goals for the club, and was then sold to Borussia Dortmund for €4 million in July 2011. Gündogan has excelled since joining Dortmund, making 77 appearances for BVB and scoring 9 goals. He was awarded with his first cap with the German national team in October 2011. He has since made 9 appearances for der mannschaft, scoring 2 goals. He missed all but one game of the 2013-2014 season, including Germany’s triumphant World Cup championship, due to a spinal compression.
So how does Dortmund’s key midfielder stack up against the cream of the crop at Barcelona?
This season, Gündogan has made 21 appearances in the German Bundesliga. He missed the first seven games of the season due to his back injury. In these 21 appearances, he has scored 3 goals, taking 39 shot and has 46% shot accuracy. He has made 3 assists and 22 key passes. He has 85% average pass accuracy, with 1,183 successful passes completed. Not only is he a key play maker for Dortmund, he is also very disciplined defensively, winning 46% of his duels and picking up only one yellow card.
How his stats compare with Barcelona’s most used midfielders:
32 appearances, 1 goal (50% shot accuracy off 6 shots), 2 assists (14 key passes), 1,871 successful passes (92% avg. pass accuracy), 7 yellow cards (55% avg. duels won)
31 appearances, 5 goals (44% shot accuracy off 34 shots), 7 assists (26 key passes), 1, 459 successful passes (90% avg. pass accuracy), 1 yellow card (45% avg. duels won)
29 appearances, 1 goal (50% shot accuracy off 25 shots), 8 assists (41 key passes), 1,489 successful passes (93%avg. pass accuracy), 1 yellow card (63% avg. duels won)
22 appearances, 0 goals (50% shot accuracy off 24 shots), 1 assist (18 key passes), 1,200 successful passes (90% avg. pass accuracy), 3 yellow cards (58% avg. duels won)
22 appearances, 1 goal (50% shot accuracy off 11 shots), 0 assists (7 key passes), 655 successful passes (91% avg. pass accuracy), 2 yellow cards (44% avg. duels won)
In 21 appearances for Borussia Dortmund, Ilkay Gündogan’s statistics fit in perfectly with what Barcelona expects from its midfielders. He completes an average of 56 passes per game, only Busquets has more with 60 passes completed per game. Gündogan has also scored more goals than all, except Rakitić who scored 5 goals in La Liga. Rakitić and Xavi have assisted and made more key passes than Gündogan. Take into consideration that Rakitić has played 10 more games, and Xavi 8 more games, than Gündogan this season. It is impossible to know, but Gündogan’s statistics may have surpassed both of these players’ statistics had he not missed so many matches.
Based on the numbers, the young German would be a steal for Barca at his current €20 market value. He will most likely stay at Dortmund until January, which will cause no problems in regards to being cup tied since Dortmund will not qualify for the Champions League next year. If he does arrive, Gündogan will hope to fight for a starting role. This competition can only be positive for the team, as it will push the other midfielders to perform to the best of their abilities, thus benefiting the Blaugrana for years to come.