Ilkay Gundogan has been named the Premier League player of the month for January after a remarkable run of goalscoring form that has helped propel Manchester City to the top of the Premier League.
Gundogan scored five goals in as many top flight games last month as City took their winning run to 12 games in all competitions, a hot streak they have extended by a further three matches in February with their German international adding to his tally with an outstanding brace in a 4-1 demolition of Premier League champions Liverpool at Anfield.
As such it was little surprise that Gundogan won the award, the first league-wide player of the month prize he has received in his career, ahead of the likes of Manchester City team-mate John Stones, Aston Villa's Jack Grealish and Arsenal youngster Bukayo Saka.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with CBS Sports HQ to air ahead of City's Champions League tie with Borussia Monchengladbach, Gundogan said: "In terms of form and the way I play I feel like there were periods in my career that were maybe similar but obviously when I see the goals that I've scored, when I just look at the numbers, it's definitely the best season that I've had so far in my career definitely."
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Having begun the season predominantly playing in a two man defensive midfield pivot, Gundogan has been one of the chief beneficiaries of Pep Guardiola's change of system and found himself operating in a more advanced role. It is one he has taken to with aplomb, the 30-year-old reaching double figures in goals for the first time in a season.
Indeed even the loss of Kevin De Bruyne has not slowed City and Gundogan, who created the most chances he ever has in a Premier League match with five in a 2-0 win over Burnley earlier this month, a rarity for Guardiola's side in that their No.8 did not find the net.
"I just started to play more offensive, when you play more offensive there are things you have to try to do a little different, to adjust," Gundogan said. "You have to get used to not getting on the ball as much as you do when you're a holding midfielder but then also you're able to be more dangerous at arriving in the opponent's box.
"That's what I try to do, I arrive there as sharp, as good as possible, occupy the right spaces with the right tempo in the right time. Just by doing this I think I had good chances to score in the last few weeks. I know that I have to put work into it, this doesn't come automatically from doing as little as possible. This is training, this is doing the right movements in training to try to get your teammates to a certain routine where they know you're going to do this run even if the ball comes. It's a team effort, I try to do it as well as possible."
Aside from the acclaim and trophy that comes with being Premier League player of the month Gundogan will also receive a unique card in FIFA Ultimate Team (FUT) to celebrate his achievement. However, the squad building challenges to earn his virtual self is not one that the modest German international is recommending for gamers.
"No one's going to buy me anyway because there's not enough pace and my shooting's not that great," Gundogan, a lapsed FUT player, joked. "There are more skillful players than me anyway so even if I was playing I wouldn't buy myself."