Pep Guardiola has seemingly been dealt an injury blow at Manchester City ahead of the Champions League final, with Ilkay Gundogan limping off the training pitch ahead of the game in Porto on Saturday night.
Even if the former Borussia Dortmund midfielder is fit enough to start against Thomas Tuchel on Saturday night, a knock like that could have serious implications on his performance, particularly if the game goes to extra time, which could prove to be a huge blow for Guardiola.
The 30-year-old has been one of the standout performers for City in their fantastic season thus far, contributing 17 goals in all competitions for the Etihad outfit, which comfortably represents the best goalscoring season of his career.
His performances in the Premier League, where he contributed 13 goals and two assists in 28 appearances, would earn him a superb 7.29 average rating from WhoScored, which is the fourth-best of any player in Guardiola’s side, which emphasises just how important he is for the Citizens.
City’s renaissance this season arguably started with a 3-1 win against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in January when Gundogan opened the scoring with an excellent finish, and that would lead to an incredible run of form from the German in February and March, which was a key factor in City’s surge up the Premier League table.
Gundogan was almost a certainty to start alongside either Rodri or Fernandinho in City’s midfield but this training knock could put some doubt in Guardiola’s mind ahead of the final, despite recent reports suggesting that he is expected to be fit. Pep likely won’t want to start any player who he doesn’t think can play the entire game, so his midfield plans may have to change.
The midfielder, who Pep called “exceptional“, has been key in City’s run to their first-ever Champions League final, averaging an excellent 7.24 rating from WhoScored for his performances in Europe, so it would be a massive blow to City’s chances if he isn’t fully fit for the game against Tuchel’s side. Guardiola will surely be fuming that one of his players was hurt in a challenge on the eve of such a big game.
And, in other news… Manchester City should swoop for “exceptional” midfielder who Pep would love