The football calendar is even more relentless than usual this season. Nineteen days after the conclusion of a dramatic Premier League campaign that saw Manchester City pip Liverpool to the post, the English transfer window will open. Fast-forward to August 6, and the new campaign will begin – earlier than normal, to make room for the winter World Cup.
In short, Liverpool have very little time to lick their wounds, and Manchester City cannot bask in their glory for long. But Pep Guardiola’s side may already have made their first mistake, and it’s one that could hand Jürgen Klopp a Premier League advantage for next season.
When the transfer window does open in 19 days, there is one player who will reportedly be on the move. According to the Daily Mail, klkay Gündoğan has been given the green light to find a new club, with just a year left on his current Manchester City contract. It’s a decision that looks extremely curious in light of the final-day action.
READ MORE: Kylian Mbappé offers ultimate Mohamed Salah contrast as Liverpool know contract truth PSG missed
READ MORE: Possible Liverpool XI in 2024 shows why Jürgen Klopp agreed new contract as Fábio Carvalho signs
Summoned from the bench, Gündoğan was ultimately the hero for Guardiola, scoring twice as a 2-0 deficit was overturned in the blink of an eye. Nor was he a particularly unlikely savior: the midfielder ended the campaign as the joint-fifth top scorer in the Premier League for Manchester City, having topped that chart last season. He has long been a major asset.
The hope within Manchester City will be that big-money transfer Erling Haaland picks up a lot of the goal-scoring slack, but for the time being there is not an abundance of prolific finishers in the squad. In a team where the burden of hitting the back of the net is shared around, a midfielder with such an eye for goal is a huge plus.
Whether Manchester City would have completed the turnaround without Gündoğan will never be known. But it seems certain that Guardiola will miss his contributions over the course of a Premier League season. In commiserating Liverpool, the player himself admitted the fine margins at play:
“Even though [Liverpool] finish just one point behind us they play an incredible season. They push us to the limit, it’s a sad day for them but we need to appreciate what they’ve done and especially my former coach. “
The former coach in question, of course, is Klopp. He nurtured Gündoğan at Borussia Dortmund, having signed him from Nürnberg. Together, they won the Bundesliga in 2011/12 – the last time Bayern Munich failed to win the title.
Just as Thiago has made life harder for Guardiola in recent times, Klopp has had to contend with his old protégé over the last few years. He will no doubt be relieved to see Gündoğan depart if he does in fact leave once the transfer window opens.
This alone would hand Liverpool an edge, but Klopp could yet double down on the advantage. It would be audacious, but 19 days after losing out on the Premier League title, there could be a chance to raid Manchester City, manufacturing a reunion with Gündoğan.
The biggest stumbling block would be the approval of Manchester City. They will be reluctant to strengthen a rival. But with the prospect of a free transfer looming in a year anyway, it may be that Guardiola is less fussy about the destination for Gündoğan. Equally, the player has earned the respect of the club, and if he were keen on linking up with Klopp once more then there may be a willingness to honor that wish.
At 31, it seems that the ship has probably sailed on such a reunion. Any transfer would fall firmly into the James Milner category, and Gündoğan still has the quality to command a bigger role at almost any club in Europe. But even if an improbable Liverpool move does not materialize, Klopp will be relieved to go into the next Premier League season without the looming threat of his former player – his final-day antics for Manchester City only served to underline why.