Mario Gotze has called on people to stop comparing him to Lionel Messi. Is that actually happening?
Germany’s head coach Joachim Low revealed after the 2014 World Cup final - in which Gotze scored the winning goal against Argentina - that he’d told the former Borussia Dortmund star to “show you are better than Messi”. Since then, according to Gotze, he has been unfairly compared to the world’s best footballer.
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Asked if Low's comments did little to slow down expectations, Gotze told Goal: "Not really, that's right. At the time Jogi Low said that to me, it was very motivating. In retrospect, silence about it would have been better.
"Perhaps journalists began comparing me with Messi after this but that just makes no sense. We play in different positions. You would not compare a defender with a striker. They should arrange things right, which is not always done, in the context of me as a player.”
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Messi comparisons began for Gotze in 2013
The comparisons with Messi began sooner than the 2014 World Cup finals - they actually started a whole year earlier, after Pep Guardiola arrived at the Allianz Arena.
The Catalan coach had reportedly instructed the Bavarian giants to sign Gotze from Dortmund because he wanted the technically-gifted midfielder to become his version of Messi at Bayern Munich.
While Gotze has performed reasonably well for the reigning German champions over the past two-and-a-half seasons, it could be argued that he has failed to progress at the rate many expected he would.
This was a player widely tipped to become the best playmaker in Europe, but it hasn’t quite panned out that way.
The likes of Thomas Muller and Robert Lewandowski have overshadowed him at Bayern Munich over the past 12 months - although for the past four months he’s been out injured.
Gotze keen to improve at his own rate
"To score in the World Cup final is not a small story, of course,” Gotze added. “Every footballer dreams of it: first to become a world champion and then even better to score in the final. This happened to me and I'm glad.
"After that the public expectation has again gone up, definitely. If someone has reached a certain level, it is always expected that he becomes better and better but there are also phases in which it does not run so smoothly - and that's human.
"I look primarily at my own expectations. These include improving steadily. I am doing everything to achieve that, I can assure you."
To compare any young player to Messi is obviously unfair; it’s very unlikely they will scale the same lofty heights as the five-time Ballon d’Or winner.
Gotze is a fine player in his own right and nipping the Messi comparisons in the bud now, albeit a couple of years too late, could prove to be a smart decision
Is Mario Gotze world class or overrated? Have your say by leaving a comment below.