Manchester United have been linked with a fresh move for Dortmund midfielder Ilkay Gundogan. That's the good news. The bad news is that it's in the Metro, one of the most unreliable sources going, and therefore there's probably next to nothing in it. Despite that; it's worth considering the prospect of United making a move, and whether he might actually be a better fit for us than Cesc Fabregas.
Firstly, there's the price to consider. While I've long said that United fans in particular put too much emphasis on cost - the way the club is run means that it's largely meaningless, given the ridiculous financial potential of the club if all profits were reinvested - there's no doubt he'd be a less expensive option, for which you can read 'more likely to happen.' He has just two years left on his contract, and would be on significantly lower wages than Fabregas. As a significantly younger player, he'd also possess greater value for money.
His youth also offers another bonus - adaptability. Gundogan is probably one of the most versatile midfielders around at the moment, capable of doing pretty much anything - passing, shooting, tackling, running with the ball - and that means that he could fill pretty much any midfield role we require. He could stand in for Carrick, play alongside him in a deep midfield two, operate as a box-to-box type or even play behind the strikers. That gives us a lot of freedom, massively improving our side without really needing to go out of the way to accomodate him as we might have to do with Fabregas.
Part of the problem is that United are in need of a very complete midfielder, to accomodate the more specialised likes of Michael Carrick and Shinji Kagawa. This is a rare beast at the moment, with few of those kind of players around. Gundogan is certainly one of them, and that's what potentially makes him more valuable - his scarcity. Fabregas, though an excellent player and well-suited to United, has potential alternatives on the market. But there's really nobody else out there like Gundogan.
We should be hoping desperately that a new link from a more reliable source appears in the coming days. The Metro quote q price of £20m for the player, which is hugely optimistic. The fee would probably be comparable to what United would have to pay for Fabregas. Having two years left on his contract doesn't mean that his value is significantly less, but it certainly means Dortmund are more likely to sell. They may play hardball-, as they appear to be doing with Robert Lewandowski, but Gundogan plays in an area of the pitch Dortmund are nowhere near as lightly-stocked.
There were several reports over a month ago that the player was due to sign a new deal - and that hasn't happened yet. We'll probably get an indication soon of how likely this is to happen, as Dortmund will want to tie him to a new deal as soon as possible. If it drags on, we'll know a move is possible, and that's when United - and, sadly, probably a few other clubs - will register their interest.