Manchester City captain Ilkay Gundogan went over the platform and spoke briefly with club chairman Khaldoon Al-Mubarak before raising the FA Cup trophy to fireworks inside Wembley Stadium.
Manchester City fans will be hoping that the focus of the talk was a new contract for a player who continues to perform when manager Pep Guardiola needs it the most.
Gundogan‘s final match for City will be the Champions League final in Istanbul the following Saturday, when the team will try to overcome Inter Milan and win a treble of the English Premier League, FA Cup, and European Trophy.
But after his most recent match-winning performance in the 2-1 victory against Manchester United on Saturday, how can City let the German midfielder go?
Like he did for a large portion of the season’s final weeks, Gundogan delivered once more. similarly to how he did in the last game of the previous campaign, when he scored two late goals to seal the Premier League.
And like he has done for almost every part of Guardiola’s stint at City, joining the team in the same summer of 2016.
“I don´t need these kind of days to feel appreciated and feel special in this club,” Gundogan said after scoring after 13 seconds and again in the 51st minute to lead City to victory in the first all-Manchester FA Cup final. “I know that and that is why I have been here seven years.”
So, will he be staying at City?
“Nothing is decided yet,” he said. “We´ll see what will happen.”
Gundogan, 32, has been offered a one-year contract extension. He is seeking a two-year contract in order to provide longer-term stability for himself and his family.
Clearly, Gundogan is someone Guardiola wants to keep. They have the same footballing philosophy, are excellent friends, and share an apartment building in Manchester.
The player who best represents the Guardiola era at City is probably Gundogan.
“He knows what I think of him,” Guardiola said. “(City sporting director) Txiki (Begiristain) is working on it, hopefully we can do it. The season he has done is exceptional.”
Gundogan broke the FA Cup record for fastest goal ever before scoring the cup-winning goal in the final, which was clocked at 12.91 seconds, according to the BBC.
Gundogan has been utilized by Pep Guardiola this season as a holding midfielder, a box-to-box central midfielder, and a second striker off Erling Haaland. Guardiola lauded his mentality and consistency.
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“He plays the big games like they are friendlies,” Guardiola said. “He can cope with the pressure.”
If the Champions League is Gundogan’s final game – and he has been linked with a move to Barcelona if he does leave City – then he hopes to leave out as a treble winner.
“We have a chance to do something special and win the treble and we do not want to let this opportunity pass us by,” he said.
“I can promise our fans we will do everything we can to win in Istanbul.”