Fit-again Gundogan thriving as Toure’s replacement at City
Things are turning out very differently for Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Ilkay Gundogan since the midfielders swapped Borussia Dortmund for teams in Manchester.
Mkhitaryan is faltering at United. Gundogan is flourishing at City.
More attention was focused on Mkhitaryan after he arrived at Old Trafford as the Bundesliga's reigning Player of the Year, on the back of a season in which he scored 23 goals and set up 32 others for Dortmund. He has started one game for United — and was substituted at halftime on that occasion — and manager Jose Mourinho has said the 27-yearold Armenian is struggling to adjust to the English game.
Gundogan arrived at Etihad Stadium in June on crutches as he recovered from a dislocated kneecap that forced him to miss the European Championship with Germany. Now fully fit, he has slotted seamlessly into City's midfield and scored four goals in his last two games — two against West Bromwich Albion in the Premier League on Saturday and another double in the 3-1 win over Barcelona in the Champions League on Tuesday.
City fans were wondering how the team could replace Yaya Toure, the midfield dynamo who was central to its rise as a force in the English game since 2010 but has now been ostracized by City manager Pep Guardiola.
They appear to have the ideal replacement in the 26-year-old Gundogan, who was slightly cheaper than Mkhitaryan at 21 million pounds (now $26 million). Gundogan was superb against Barcelona, and not just because of his goals that began and completed City's recovery at the Etihad. He had a 97 percent pass-completion record, the best of any starting player — some feat given the standard of the opposition. His pressing game, especially in the second half when Barcelona swarmed all over, stood out. He always wanted the ball and tried to make things happen, even in the first half when City was trailing.
Gundogan — a pure center midfielder — doesn't have an obvious weakness in his game. Some are already comparing him to Chelsea great Frank Lampard because of the timing of his runs into the box, as shown for both his goals.