New Barcelona midfielder Ilkay Gundogan was presented at the club’s training ground on Monday, with and explained that Xavi Hernandez was key in his decision to join the club.
Gundogan thanked former Sporting Director Jordi Cruyff for his role in the deal, and explained that there was no particular thing Pep Guardiola could have said to persuade him to remain at Manchester City. He explained what it was that had brought him to leave the treble winners.
“Being a player for this club makes us feel very proud. Wearing this shirt was a dream, on a couple of occasions I was quite close but it was not the right time. Luckily the moment was today and I am very proud to be a Barca player.”
Gundogan also followed in a line of players over the last two seasons that have pointed to Xavi as a key reason in his decision to join the club, which includes Jules Kounde, Robert Lewandowski, Raphinha, Pablo Torre and Marcos Alonso.
“First of all, he made his ideas very clear. It’s very similar to what I’ve done with Manchester City. His direct manner, his character, I saw myself reflected in him, also in how he played. From the beginning we had a very good connection. Sometimes the ‘how’ something is said is more important than the ‘what’.”
It had also been said that Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Lewandowski had spoken to him in order to persuade him to join them.
“I spoke with him [Lewandowski] before the holidays. He told me about the club, the Mediterranean lifestyle, the city and what he likes to be part of Barca. His words were very powerful, and the brightness in his eyes.. Maybe not as long a conversation, but perhaps more impactful.”
“Ter Stegen also wrote to me. We spoke longer while with Germany too, and I saw how happy they were. I didn’t come because of their words, because I already had the decision made, but they helped.”
Xavi and Barcelona seem to have perfected their pitch to new players, persuading signings to turn down other offers in favour of their offers. The lifestyle sells itself compared to many of their competitors, but Xavi appears to have worked out how to reach players, even if it hasn’t always worked perfectly once they are on the pitch.