Ilkay Gundogan is relishing being out of his comfort zone at Manchester City.
The Germany midfielder became Pep Guardiola’s first signing as City manager despite being on the mend from surgery to repair a dislocated knee cap – an injury that ruled him out of Euro 2016.
Gundogan, 25, was recalled to Joachim Low’s national squad for the forthcoming World Cup qualifiers against Czech Republic and Northern Ireland, having started four matches for City last month.
The early season form of Fernandinho, David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne means competition for places in midfield areas is likely to remain fierce at the Etihad Stadium, but Gundogan is enjoying the challenge as he prepares for Sunday’s top-of-the-table clash at Tottenham in the Premier League.
“I just wanted to start from zero,” he told the Daily Telegraph. “At Dortmund I played five years there and I had standing there and I was quite sure when I was fit that I would play and I was one of the players needed to drive the team forward and lead the others.
“Maybe not a captain but I lead by the way I play and I knew my position there. I wanted to come out of that comfort zone and join a new team, with a new manager, with a new club, a new country, a new league, a very competitive league. It’s not easy to handle all that, I knew that.
“Everyone told me the Premier League is the hardest. So I just wanted to try because I had nothing to lose.
“So I think for me it was the perfect time. I’m 25-years-old and I achieved everything in Germany.
“Also the combination with Pep and the club – it’s perfect for my type of football. It was not a difficult decision.
“It was quite easy. I enjoyed my years at Dortmund and thank and appreciate them but I wanted to go and show [elsewhere] how I play football. That’s what I mean by wanting to start from zero.”
Gundogan reports a “very good relationship” with Guardiola and is getting to grips with being at the hub of the former Barcelona boss’ trademark high-tempo, possession-based style.
“It’s hard work, very hard work, but we should never forget that it is fun,” he added.
“There is sometimes a danger that we all, not just players, but everyone forgets that the main thing of this sport is to have fun, to enjoy it, to enjoy the moments.”
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