In a deal that rocked the football world and especially the city of Dortmund, Mario Gotze jumped at the chance to play for German powerhouse Bayern Munich under incumbent manager Pep Guardiola.
The Bavarian native was born in the town of Memmingen, joining Dortmund’s academy at the age of 8 years old and becoming their poster-boy just 10 years later. To cap off a wonderful career to date, the wonderfully gifted playmaker/forward scored the winning goal in the final of the 2014 World Cup, adding to his Bundesliga titles.
At the time of his move to the Allianz Arena, Borussia Dortmund manager claimed that his then pride and joy wanted to take the next step in his career, moving to one of the best clubs in Europe and playing for a manager (Pep Guardiola) he thinks can make him a great player. The 2011 Golden Boy winner had forged a devastating partnership with fellow Dortmund product Marco Reus but that was not enough keep him at the Signal Iduna Park.
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Much to the dismay of the Dortmund fans who faced the reality that one of their own had chosen public enemy number one, Gotze insisted that it was a decision he had to make in order to make further progress in his career. The dream of almost every German international is to play for the Bavarians so the move made by 5ft 9in forward was understandable. However he would miss the 2013 Champions League final against Bayern due to injury and many questioned whether the youngster would support current employers Dortmund or their greatest enemy at that moment in time.
A dream move to play for one of the best coaches around seems the ideal move for any young player with exceptional quality, ability and massive potential. To be chosen ahead of Neymar by the Bayern hierarchy speaks volumes to how highly rated Gotze is in his homeland. However the World Cup winner doesn’t seem to have made any progress since his move to the Allianz Arena.
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The air of invincibility he had while playing for Jurgen Klopp alongside Reus seems to have vanished in thin air and like Franz Beckenbauer rightly said, he often looks like a youth player.
Since his move to play with the big boys in Bavaria, the 22-year-old has yet to find his best position in Guardiola’s plans.
He has been used as a ‘false 9,’ a playmaker and in wide positions. He made a name for himself playing in wide positions for Dortmund but with the presence of Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben he plays second fiddle and with Thomas Muller’s goal-scoring record he faces many minutes on the bench.
When he gets his chance the Dortmund product has so failed to find any sort of form that saw the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona, Chelsea and Manchester United all seeking his signature. At times he has produced moments of real genius and magic but at the highest level consistency is required and he has so far failed miserably in that department. However he still has got a lot to learn about his trade and at the age of just 22 years time is very much on his side. Still it must be frustrating for the player who many believe can become the greatest German player in history.
He must be patient, keep his chin high and work hard to get his career on the trajectory that many believes it should be. He faces fierce competition for places but he has the ability to secure a place in the team. This is a serious test of his character and mettle which can either make him into the world-beater the football world know he can be or just another hit and miss young star.
Gotze has shown more than enough glimpses of what made him so highly rated, now he must find a way to get consistency in his game at the highest level.