New Barcelona player, Ilkay Gündogan has said “didn’t know anything about football” before working with Pep Guardiola, while also praising new boss Xavi Hernández as “amazing” and his Barcelona team as having “huge potential.”
Gündogan, 32, left Guardiola’s Manchester City for Barca this month on a free transfer after seven seasons in the Premier League.
He won five league titles, two FA Cups, four League Cups and the Champions League during his time in Manchester, culminating in last season’s historic treble.
“Before I joined Man City, I thought I knew football,” Gündogan told ESPN on Monday. “I was 25 or 26 years old, I’d seen a lot. I’d played a Champions League final. But now standing here after seven years of Pep’s school, I’d say I didn’t know anything about football before. His influence on the team and me personally was immense.”
Gündogan described last season’s triumph as “dreamland” but said it was the right time to move, arguing that “if I want to challenge myself and get out of my comfort zone, this is the time.”
The Germany international added: “Since I was a child I just adored Barcelona. With players like Ronaldinho and [Lionel] Messi, and then [Sergio] Busquets, [Andres] Iniesta, Xavi… I always said to myself that when I got the opportunity one day, I didn’t want to miss out.”
Barca won LaLiga last season in Xavi’s first full campaign in charge, finishing 10 points ahead of rivals Real Madrid to claim their first league title since 2019.
“My first impressions [of Xavi] were amazing, exactly what I expected,” Gündogan said. “We spoke before the transfer on the phone and he explained a few things to me, his idea [of football], which is quite similar to Man City… We already have a great bond and it’s just going to get better.”
“I’ve known [Robert Lewandowski] for a long time,” he said, when asked about his new teammates. “I know [goalkeeper] Marc [ter Stegen]… There’s a lot of quality in the team, a lot of young players with huge potential.”
Gündogan will be competing for a place in Barca’s midfield with fellow new arrival Oriol Romeu, Frenkie de Jong and youngsters Pedri and Gavi.