After recovering from the coronavirus earlier in the season, Ilkay Gundogan has been on a sensational run of form for Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City, who are flying high at the top of the Premier League table. From Boxing Day onward, he’s scored 10 goals and has provided two assists in the league for City and also provided an assist in their dramatic FA Cup fourth round win over Cheltenham Town. He’s currently one of Guardiola’s most in form players as the Cityzens are now 10 points clear at the top of the table over second-placed Manchester United.
Gundogan is also a regular feature for Joachim Low’s German national team, and as Az has recently speculated, he could be part of the reason why Bayern Munich’s Thomas Muller hasn’t yet been recalled.
As a part of Guardiola’s tactical masterclass, Gundogan has been used in a more advanced role for City, which has clearly paid dividends with the performances he’s had en route to 18 consecutive league wins. This is something that Low could do with Gundogan as well, and the midfielder has said himself, “I have a different role now. I’m getting closer to goal. Of course I am aiming for a regular place for the EM (European Championships) regardless of the system.”
In Die Mannshcaft’s current setup, Low already has Joshua Kimmich and Toni Kroos to act as the holding midfielders, so Gundogan would fit better into a more advanced role along with Leon Goretzka. Goretzka could even play as a holding midfielder if need be, but with the way Gundogan is playing for City in a more advanced role, Low will certainly be keen to use him in the same way in the national team setup. Unfortunately for Muller, this would be a similar position that he would occupy, both for Germany and Bayern. For Low, it’d be ludicrous to keep Gundogan out of the team with the form he’s in, despite Muller having a strong season as well for Bayern.
Of course, Muller also possesses the ability to be deployed as a wide attacking player, though he is arguably far better in a more central role playing behind a striker. Even still, as a wide option, Muller would have to compete for a spot in the German setup with Bayern teammates Leroy Sane and Serge Gnabry. Not to mention, Marco Reus, Kai Havertz, and Timo Werner can all be used as either wide or central attackers as well as Julian Brandt, Julian Draxler, and perhaps even Florian Neuhaus. In his best, more central position, though, the case is difficult for Muller with how well Gundogan has been playing and while it might not be the reason Muller is left out of the squad this summer, it’s certainly one of several reasons from Low’s perspective.