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Ilkay Gundogan: Pep Guardiola is the reason I picked Manchester City over Liverpool

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01/13/2018 | 05:20pm CEST

Endorsements don't get much bigger than being courted by both Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp. Especially when you're in the midst of recovering from an injury.

Ilkay Gundogan has spent quite a few spells of his career recovering on the treatment table, but there's been no doubting his talent. Klopp was the man who first spotted it, signing his fellow German for Borussia Dortmund in 2011 from Nuremberg, and the midfielder was instrumental in Klopp's two title-winning seasons at Dortmund. So it was no surprise in 2016 when Klopp, now at Liverpool, tried to bring Gundogan to Anfield.

But the lure of Guardiola and Manchester City proved too much.

"I spoke with Jurgen about different things," Gundogan said in an exclusive interview with the Daily Mail. "He always liked me as a player and I would be a liar if I said he didn't try."

"But when I had the opportunity to join City and work with Pep, it was quite clear that I wanted to come here. When I was a little bit down because of my injury, he was quite sure he was still going to try to buy me. That showed me it could never be the wrong decision to join this club.

"They are both great managers, great characters and very ambitious. I've been lucky."

Klopp and Gundogan are set to be reunited on Sunday, albeit on opposite sides as the Premier League-leading City take on Liverpool at Anfield, a venue where City haven't won in nearly 15 years. But with the Manchester side having yet to lose a Premier League game this season, this visit will be different than others.

"It could be a big moment for us," Gundogan said. "Anfield is one of the hardest stages in the world and on good days Liverpool are able to beat any team in the world.

"It's more exciting for everyone when you have two top teams who try to attack and try to create chances.

"I can imagine it's not attractive for the spectators when we play teams with 10 players around their own box, just defending and hoping for a set-piece or throw-in, anything.

"We need to be ready to show the same spirit as we did away at Chelsea and Manchester United. We have beaten all the big teams until now and we want to continue on Sunday."

With a 15-point lead in the Premier League, one foot in the final of the Carabao Cup, a status as one of the contenders for the Champions League and among the favourites for the FA Cup, there has been talk of an unprecedented Quadruple, along with matching the feat of Arsenal's Invincibles squad by going through the entire league season unbeaten. But Gundogan isn't taking anything for granted.

"It's difficult," the 27-year-old added.

"If I say 'yes' now, I would disagree with the manager, and that wouldn't be so smart!"

"We have a lot of games to go, and a lot of hurdles to take, but everything is possible. We are in a comfortable situation and enjoy being on top. Having that gap also gives us confidence. This season is special as we are winning and winning and winning. We will try to go all the way. Maybe we will lose one day and maybe we won't.

"We always feel safe. In games where we don't score many goals, we still feel quite sure we won't concede much. And in games where we concede one or two, we feel we can score a lot more.

"At this point, it just fits automatically. It's just there. We don't think about it much. On the field, everyone knows exactly what we need to do. Sometimes it's strange.

"I have never felt at any time this season there is a safe first XI, just players who play more and some who play less. There is even more potential in this team.

"We didn't play badly last season but it was more up and down. This season, we are just on a wave and it's very hard to get us off this wave."

On Sunday, that wave could carry them to a rare Anfield victory.

(c) 2018 2017 Gulf Sports Media All rights reserved. Provided by SyndiGate Media Inc. (Syndigate.info)., source Middle East & North African Newspapers

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