(Reuters) - Manchester City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan believes he is close to finding his best form after a injury-ridden start to his spell at the Premier League club.
The German international joined City in July 2016 but his debut was delayed after he suffered a dislocated kneecap earlier that year. Gundogan went on to make 16 appearances in the 2016-17 season before sustaining a serious knee ligament injury.
After being sidelined for eight months, the 27-year-old returned in September’s league win over Watford and has featured 38 times for City across all competitions this season.
"I just think about now, about being part of the team, about training well and playing well, about doing what the manager and the staff want me to transport into the team," Gundogan told the Manchester City website www.mancity.com.
“I have my own impact and during the last months I was still on my way to my best. Now, I feel nearly or already there, and I am having fun and I’m happy.”
Gundogan, who has 22 caps for Germany, will be eager to impress in the national team’s friendlies against Spain on Friday and Brazil on Tuesday with the hope of booking a spot in the World Cup squad.
City are on the verge of winning their third league title in six years as they hold a 16-point advantage over second-placed Manchester United with eight games remaining and won their first trophy under Pep Guardiola with a League Cup triumph last month.
The Etihad outfit have also booked a Champions League quarter-final tie against Premier League rivals Liverpool, leaving Gundogan hopeful that City are well on their way to joining Europe’s elite.
“It feels great. But this is just the beginning, I think,” Gundogan added. “We are still on a road — a good way, I think, with the way we play — to come into that elite of clubs in Europe.
“I wouldn’t say we are there. We need to compete with teams like Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Juventus... the biggest teams.”
City travel to Everton in the league on March 31 and could possibly clinch the title in the subsequent home match against United. The Champions League ties against Liverpool fall either side of the Manchester derby.
Reporting by Aditi Prakash in Bengaluru; Editing by John O'Brien