Manchester City’s director of football Txiki Begiristain paid tribute to the “inspirational” Ilkay Gundogan after the midfielder’s long-expected free transfer to Barcelona was confirmed.
The treble-winning captain turned down the chance to stay at City and is set to sign with Barca, who have set his buyout clause at 400million euros (£342m), until 2025 following the expiration of his existing contract.
Gundogan, who was manager Pep Guardiola’s first signing in July 2016, signed off in style by lifting the Champions League earlier this month after victory over Inter Milan in his 304th and final appearance.
“Ilkay has been a wonderful servant for Manchester City, and he leaves our club on a very special high having captained us to a historic treble,” said Begiristain.
“He has played a huge part in the successes we have enjoyed in recent seasons and Ilkay’s intelligence, leadership and commitment to the club – both on and off the field – has been an inspiration to everyone.
“Ilkay has truly cemented his place in the history of Manchester City and we all wish him well in the next chapter of his career.”
During his seven years at City Gundogan won the Premier League five times, in addition to two FA Cups – this season scoring the quickest goal in final history at 12 seconds – four League Cups and the Champions League.
“I have been lucky to have experienced so many unforgettable moments in my time here and to have been captain for this extra-special season has been the greatest experience of my career,” said the former Germany international.
“First, I would like to thank Pep. To have been able to play under and learn from him for so long has been something I will never forget.
“I would also like to thank all my team-mates – past and present – who have all played such a special part in making my time here so amazing.
“Finally, I would like to thank the incredible City fans. They have supported me from the moment I arrived, and I owe them all so much for their support.
“This club made me realise all my dreams and I will forever be thankful for this opportunity.”