Grading The Deal; The Illimitable İlkay Gündoğan Moves To Manchester City


The silly season is fully underway, as club “think tanks” seek to delve into the transfer market and attempt to strengthen their teams going into the new season, while also ensuring that they get the best possible value for money deals in a very competitive and largely inflated global transfer market. We at GSV have taken it upon ourselves to give you a comprehensive breakdown of some transfer deals in our Grading The Deal supplement, an exclusive and comprehensive guide catered towards the purists who seek to know more than the average fan regarding the wheeling’s and dealings in football today. Enjoy!


When the Jürgen Klopp led Borussia Dortmund outfit was gradually establishing their status as one of the pioneering teams of the modern era, with their heavy metal gegen-pressing game often leaving opposition sides looking overawed; the team was often kept together in midfield by a player that helped to fully integrate the deep-lying playmaker position in a high pressing side globally. İlkay Gündoğan is a player that is light-years ahead of most midfield players today talent wise; blessed with the ability to read a game as well as the best of them, while also having the technical proficiency to make magic with scrumptious passes that often lead to something positive happening for his side, Gündoğan is a premier level deep-lying playmaker of high regard. When Xavi Hernández was ranked as the premier regista is World football, he played the position better than anybody on the planet and exemplified al it meant to be a deep-lying playmaker in positioning and output on both ends of the ball. The baton was passed from Pirlo to Xavi, and many felt that it was firmly between Luka Modrić & İlkay Gündoğan as to who would wear that mantle for the next 5 years. İlkay suffered some injury setbacks, and his time away from the elite stage saw the further rise of players like Paul Pogba & Mateo Kovačić, who will now be seen as the rivals that he needs to compete against as he attempts to solidify his place as one of the best deep-lying playmakers of his generation.

The new Manchester City, under gaffer legendary Pep Guardiola, will need to have their own unique identity, one that allows for the coach to build his own foundation for the work ahead upon the great platform already laid in terms of infrastructure and operations. Many of the old-guard were long expected to make way for younger players that are expected to form part of the bright future being envisioned by the board, fans and the new technical team; a world-class like İlkay Gündoğan is a must have if Pep wants to bring his intricate game to England and enjoy any measurable success in a physically demanding league. The fact that he is looked at as somewhat of a low-key signing by some, due to his lack of output over the last 24 plus months, may just assist Gündoğan in acclimatising to his new surroundings and quickly getting up to the pace & intensity of the league, without too much expectation on him to lead the new-look side in what is expected to be a modified midfield. İlkay has the experience to know that this new challenge is one he must grab with both hands if he seeks to get his career back on track & prove his merit as a genuine world-class talent, one who could be a lot further on in his development were it not for injuries, that have combined to make him miss a total of 132 games, 88 of those from one injury, for the 2 clubs he has represented since 2009.

İlkay Gündoğan


DoB: October 24th, 1990 (25)

PoB: Gelsenkirchen, North Rhine-Westphalia; Germany

Nationality: German

Caps & Goals: 16 Caps, 4 Goals & 3 Assists

Position/s: Deep-Lying Playmaker, Box-To-Box Midfielder, Attacking Midfielder, Advanced Playmaker, Trequartista

Height: 1, 80m

Preferred Foot: Right

Club: Manchester City Football Club

Jersey No: #16

Former Clubs: VfL Bochum II (2008-2009), 1. FC Nürnberg (2009-2011), Borussia Dortmund (2011-2016)

Development Nest/s: SV Gelsenkirchen-Hessler 06, Schalke 04, SSv Buer, VfL Bochum

Transfer Fee: £20m

Contract Expiry: June 30th, 2020

2015/16 Club Stats: 40 Games, 3 Goals, 7 Assists & 2 Yellow Cards

Total Career Stats: 210 Games, 23 Goals, 27 Assists & 16 Yellow Cards

GSV Deal Grader: David Silva, from Valencia CF to Manchester City, June 2010 for £26m (5/5)

The Grand Stand View

İlkay Gündoğan did well to overcome the spinal compression injury that ruled him out for a year from August of 2013 to September of 2014; he is currently sidelined with a dislocated patella, which has had him out of action since the 2nd of May 2016, Manchester City will have to use their vast medical resources to manage the physical regiment of Gündoğan and help him stay as fit as possible. İlkay is expected to miss the 1st few games of the season as he shrugs off his injury, but the one ca trust that he will be fighting to prove his worth once he is fully fit and ready to play.

The transfer fee is a relatively small outlay for a player of İlkay’s repute; the players rather sketchy injury record, the fact that he had a year left to run on his Dortmund deal and his willingness to explore a new challenge have all combined to allow City to truly steal a world-class player, for a fee that wouldn’t buy you a decent young prospect in the current transfer market. The considerable savings on the deal should allow the spending to continue, as Pep looks to build the team he feels is armed with the weapons to play his attacking game.


What Happened To That Boi; The Momentous Misfortune Of Michael Johnson

From Hot Prospect To Hot Property Mover | #TradingPlaces
From Hot Prospect To Hot Property Mover | #TradingPlaces
City's Unforgettable Forgotten Man | Micheal Johnson
City’s Unforgettable Forgotten Man | Michael Johnson

Being the very vocal advocates for youth development that we are, we need to accept all the possible downsides to more and more people embracing the notion of investing in younger players and their development with the belief that this ideology will always afford the beautiful game a solid foundation for growth. With all those positives brought into consideration, it’s not a rarity for one to see many young players succumbing to the heavy expectations paced on them and the media circus that comes with being so gifted in this age of technology and the increased pressure to perform at a level that justifies the increased levels of remuneration, for so many diverse and often bizarre reasons an alarming number of these players ultimately fail to become the super talents that people predicted they would be and thus the common question in the barroom over a pint as the football plays, “what happened to that boi?”

Introduced himself as

A technically adept midfield general who seemed primed to become yet another star English box-to-box midfielder in the mould of Paul Scholes and Ray Parlour before him; blessed with the engine to run his socks off for an entire game and still look up for another run-out, Michael Johnson was the young British midfield general poised to become a star for both club and country, after spells with various sides at youth level, the promising youngster signed for Manchester City in 2004 as a 16 year old sensation who had already been capped for England at u/16 level.

The 20th graduate out of the Manchester City academy into the first team squad, Johnson took his great promise from the youth ranks onto the elite stage and looked at home marshalling the midfield in a squad that had a good mix of youth and experience to make for a competitive and educational environment. Michael Johnson made his debut for City in October of 2006 away to Wigan Athletic as gaffer Stuart Pearce showed his faith in a young lad that had recently captained the City Academy side, in the absence of Micah Richards, as they finished runners-up in the 2006 FA Youth Cup final. His debut was not a memorable one as the side lost 4-0 at the JJB stadium and Johnson had to wait until March of 2007 for his second start for City in a 3-2 victory over Middlesbrough, it begun a healthy run of 7 consecutive games in the starting unit and his great run in the side came to an end as a hamstring injury ruled him out for a clash against Aston Villa.

Michael Johnson netted his 1st senior goal for City on the 15th of August in 2007 as they beat Derby County 1-0 at home; the goal was City’s first league strike at home since the turn of the new year, it also marked the start of Johnson’s injury troubles as he then missed the remainder of 2007 and the start of 2008 with an abdominal injury while also undergoing a double-hernia operation during the layoff. Returning to action in a nil-all draw against the club he made his debut against, Wigan Athletic, Johnson finished the 2007-2008 season in decent form and was looking back to full match fitness.

Where did it go wrong?

The injection of resources and highly recruited international players did not seem to deter the Umston born lad as he combined well in a free flowing and competitive midfield trio that included Stephen Ireland and Elano; yet his injury troubles begun to flare up again as a recurrence of his abdominal injury in a League Cup loss to Brighton & Hove Albion on the 24th of September 2008 ruled him out for competitive football for 7 months. Johnson failed to feature for the first team for the remainder of the season and his return in a pre-season match against Orlando Pirates was his last appearance for the club for a further couple of months as he picked up a strain in the warm-up for the Kaizer Chiefs clash during the clubs tour of South Africa. After a year out of the side, Johnson returned to the City first team on the 28th of September 2009 as a substitute in a 3-1 win over West Ham United. His resurgence was short lived as the club announced on December 10th that Johnson had suffered a serious knee injury during training that would rule him out for months and see him miss the remainder of the season.

A season long loan to Leicester City for the 2011-12 season was cut short in January of 2012 when he sustained yet another injury after making 9 appearances for the Championship side. That marked the end of a promising career plagued by injuries for a talented young player that had immense ability and the potential to become one of the best midfield players to come out of English football in his generation. Michael Johnson was released from his professional contract in December of 2012, the 24 year old was then a reasonably regressed version of himself as a footballer and seemingly beaten as a young man who had the world at his feet as a teenager; recording a measly four competitive appearances in his final 5 seasons under contract at City, there was little to smile about with the once promising youngster failing to make a single appearance in his last 3 seasons at the club.

The legend

We have seen Manchester City take a proactive stance when it comes to youth development in recent times, yet the City youth academy will be renowned for producing one of the greatest young footballers never to star for England; until they rewrite the wrongs on the past, Johnson was mentally underdeveloped for the elite level and his physical fragilities could have been better managed by the club, Manchester City will always have the stench of Michael Johnson’s unfulfilled potential lingering around their expensive and aesthetically pleasing youth facilities. The football legacy of Michael Johnson might be one of a great talent that never quite materialised, yet the man is living proof that the game can make or break a young man and only the strong survive either fate.

The life away from football has not been without front page headlines for the former England youth international as his personal life has been made a spectacle of by the media who seem fine with beating a man with his own broom while he is down; the player admitted to being under treatment for mental health issues for years, such are the challenges on the other end of the young superstar in the making spectrum. While he has successfully rebuilt his life away from football, Johnson now seeks to be left alone to live his life in peace and that is not too much to ask for a man that has taken enough stick to build a bonfire that could warm the Antarctica. Besides, not many real estate agents can boast the experience of having been a Premier League footballer to their list of accolades and Bob’s your FC Manchester shareholding uncle with a season ticket at Old Trafford.

Michael Johnson


DoB: March 3rd, 1988 (27)

PoB: Urmston, Trafford, Greater Manchester; England, United kingdom

Nationality: English

Caps & Goals: N/A (England u/16, u/19 & u/21 International)

Position/s: Deep-Lying Playmaker, Box-To-Box Midfielder, Ball-Winning Midfielder

Height: 1, 83m

Preferred Foot: Right

Current Club: Free Agent

Market Value: R 5 600 000

Previous Clubs: Manchester City, Leicester City (loan)

Youth Clubs: Leeds United, SBV Excelsior, Everton, Manchester City

Career Club Record: 59 Games, 3 Goals, 6 Assists