BVB’S prodigal son is back where he began after tough times in Munich and must make the move work if he is to fulfill his potential…
At a time when the footballing world watches with bated breath on when and if Manchester United would finally bring the Paul Pogba saga to a close, another transfer took place in Germany without attracting the same level of attention. Mario Gotze, the wonder kid whose swing of the boot in 2014 brought Germany their fourth world title, ended his Bayern Munich nightmare to return to the club where he made his name.
It has been a regular feature in the Bundesliga of Bayern taking away all of Borussia Dortmund’s key players with the likes of Gotze, Robert Lewandowski and most recently Mats Hummels all crossing the bitter divide. However, this is one transfer that can either work in Dortmund’s favour or become a case of Bayern shrewdly reducing the wage bill. But, the bigger question is where does Gotze go from here? Three years ago when he made the highly controversial move to Bayern, he was expected to be the centerpiece of Pep Guardiola’s Bavarian revolution. The Catalan, known for his preference to play without a traditional No.9, was surely the right man to take Super Mario’s game to the next level.
What turned out was the exact opposite. Played out wide and very rarely in his preferred No. 10 role, Gotze went from outstanding potential to a player that warmed the bench. Guardiola rarely trusted him with starts in crucial games, something he would have surely expected when he switched loyalties. Post a disastrous showing at Euro 2016, the midfielder was at a crossroads in his career. 73 appearances over 3 years yielded just 22 goals, a paltry figure for someone who was considered the German Lionel Messi. While his former mentor Jurgen Klopp made all the right noises about bringing him to Merseyside, Gotze knew that his heart lay at Signal Iduna Park. Furthermore, new Bayern boss Carlo Ancelotti made no promises of Gotze’s place in the squad as he attempts to bring European glory back to Munich.
This homecoming is of vital importance to Super Mario. He first needs to win back the hearts of Dortmund’s passionate fans, many of whom were miffed when one of their own moved to their greatest rivals in 2013. To do this, Gotze needs to recapture some of the form that took defences apart. What would add weight to his cause is the fact that he would now be reunited with his former partner in crime, Marco Reus, whose combination play with Gotze in BVB’s dream run to the Champions League Final at Wembley was a joy to watch. Secondly, Gotze would benefit from the tutelage of Thomas Tuchel, who has built on the foundation laid by Jurgen Klopp, to create a team that is capable of challenging on all fronts. Tuchel’s 4-2-3-1 system would allow Gotze greater clarity in his role in the starting XI in stark contrast to his time at Bayern, where Guardiola’s constant need to evolve his team saw him being played in positions where he had minimal impact.
Greater playing time, a familiar system and being back in familiar surroundings would allow Gotze to recover some lost confidence. Joachim Low will no doubt keep a close eye on his progress with a view to reintegrating the creative ace as a key cog in the national setup. At any rate, this switch marks the beginning of a crucial phase for Gotze’s career. It will see him either rescale old heights and take himself to the next level, or one of the most prodigious talents produced by German football in recent times could fade into oblivion.
Editorial by Khel Now-Feature Columnist Srinivasan Mohan , Srinivasan Mohan is an ardent football fan from the Silicon Valley of India, Bangalore. He holds a Bachelors Degree in Engineering and an MBA in Marketing. He has been following football since 2000 and is an ardent Bayern Munich and Chelsea supporter. He has had stints with Goal.com and 90Minutes magazine. Srini as he is commonly know, is someone who loves writing on the Bundesliga and is also fascinated by Serie A. Apart from writing, he spends his time drumming, reading, and working out. You can follow him on Twitter.