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"Complete midfielder" looks closer to Manchester United transfer

Continuing our "Twelve days of the January transfer window" series, as Manchester United look to get a bargain in Borussia Dortmund's Ilkay Gundogan.

Alex Grimm

On the fourth day of the January transfer window, my true love gave to me...

Four bearded Germans,

Three Basque midfielders, two German wingers, and a Scottish playmaker.

When Borussia Dortmund were going on their fine Champions League run last year, the view from most Manchester United fans was to probably look at Ilkay Gundogan and discuss which body parts they'd give away to have such a player in their midfield. Now, remarkably, it seems that it might come to pass without the need to surrender any limbs.

Manchester United rarely sign players of this ilk, of course. But there are two very good reasons why we might sign Ilkay Gundogan. Firstly, there's plenty of suggestion that the club is prepared to break the bank for the right player, and Gundogan could theoretically be perfect for our midfield. And secondly, his contract's running out. And United in recent years have loved nothing more than a cut-price deal on a player with not long to go on his contract.

Gundogan's deal expires in the summer of 2015, and there's plenty of suggestion around in the newspapers at the moment that £25m is all it will take to secure his signing. For a player of his potential, that's a phenomenal deal. So, what could go wrong?

Well, Arsenal are interested too. That's one potential hurdle, although United could certainly offer much higher wages. The second is that he's a Dortmund player and, well... Dortmund players don't have a great record elsewhere, particularly ones that play a very specific role like Gundogan. Nuri Sahin failed at both Real Madrid and Liverpool. Shinji Kagawa's time at United has been a disaster. And while Jurgen Klopp rightly called Gundogan a "complete midfielder", the potential that he's benefiting from his current role as much as his own ability is there.

Gundogan would likely slot into this United side as the further forward of the deepest midfield two, ahead of Phil Jones, Marouane Fellaini, or Michael Carrick. Essentially, he'd replace Tom Cleverley, at doing the role of breaking up play in more advanced positions, creating chances with his passing, and looking to run the game, with the difference that Gundogan is actually capable of breaking up play in advanced positions, creating chances with his passing, and running a game.

As for whether he'd want to join, much like those who suggest Marco Reus would never leave Dortmund in January, it's a bit naive. United are a bigger club than Dortmund who can afford much, much, higher wages. And as long as they don't suffer a serious collapse, that alone will mean any deal can be done with the inclination. Few transfers are as exciting and as realistic as this one.