Ilkay Gundogan could remarkably be back in action come September after a successful procedure in Munich.
Manchester United have been heavily linked with a move for Borussia Dortmund midfielder Ilkay Gundogan over the past 18 months - and with good reason, he is a superb midfield option linked at a fee in the region of £25 million.
However an immediate deal for the player is never going to happen. In April the German international has signed a contract extension until 2016 with the club - ensuring that for now he will remain a Borussia Dortmund player - despite admitting in the past his ‘dream’ of playing for United.
“Yes I believe I know just what I am at Borussia Dortmund … I guess I feel very comfortable being here and around despite my long injury...”
But no matter how interested they were in his signature it has never been on the cards - as Gundogan’s season has been blighted by persistent injury problems.
He picked up a back injury in the opening game of the 2013-14 season against FC Augsburg - meaning he only played 57 minutes of football this season.
A January comeback for the player failed to materialise after another nerve problem in his back and his season was over soon after. Gundogan has also struggled to maintain his fitness with a lack of exercise caused by the back pain.
Now there is however hope, after Gundogan underwent what some are describing as 'career saving' back surgery yesterday, described by the surgical team doing the job as "a minimal invasive procedure at the lumbar spine". He was operated on in Munich and the prognosis after surgery is good, with the medical team declaring:
"Nothing should stand in Gündoğan's way before he returns to professional football."
He is now targeting a return to training in September which will then be followed by a legthy rehabilitation programme for him to get back into fighting fit shape for Jurgen Klopp's side. So don't expect to see him in action until October at the earliest.
As for a United move, this would seem a permanent stain on his record. Back injuries are so difficult to heal and Gundogan may never be the same player, even if he is nobody would gamble £25 million on him anymore.
His career may not be over, but he faces a long road to get it back on the track it was before his injury woe.