When signing Kim Kallstrom from Spartak Moscow in January 2014, Arsene Wenger was forced to defend his new loan signing. Arsenal were left red faced when it emerged that the Swede had a back injury which would keep him out for six weeks. Kallstrom, Arsenal’s only piece of business that January window, would go on to only make a handful of appearances and Wenger was left humiliated.
Pep Guardiola has taken a pretty big gamble of his own on German midfielder Ilkay Gundogan. Man City have reportedly paid a fee of about £20m for Gundogan who is currently sidelined with a dislocated kneecap and will miss Euro 2016. Gundogan himself has admitted he may not return until September missing pre-season, Man City’s first few Premier League games and their vital Champions League qualifiers. His previous injuries could be a cause for concern too; Gundogan missed the 2014 World Cup with a back problem that saw him also miss almost the entire 2013-14 season.
Gundogan, when fit, is without doubt a top signing. His former boss Jurgen Klopp described Gundogan as “a complete player”. His 87.8 per cent pass completion is among the best in the Bundesliga and he has played a key role for Dortmund since signing in 2011. He would suit Man City perfectly. His drive and leadership would be a perfect replacement for Yaya Toure.
I’m not writing Gundogan off. There is nothing to stop Gundogan from being injury free for the next few years and being a big part of City’s future. But the product they’ve bought is damaged. If you buy a scratched DVD, it might work when you get home and you’ll wonder what all the fuss was about. Then again, you’re taking a chance. It’s not as if he’s carrying a slight knock, his current injury is one of the most serious injuries a player can get.
Guardiola has a big job at City; expectations are high and he has three years to succeed before he’s off. I predict many more signings at the Etihad but they’ve started off with a puzzling one.
Signing a player with a serious injury record is one thing, signing a player who is currently injured is either very brave or very stupid.