Since making his controversial switch from Borussia Dortmund to Bayern Munich in 2013, Mario Götze has not enjoyed the best of times on the playing field – but why?
It’s fair to say the Mario Götze in Munich story has been strangely underwhelming so far – a mixture of continuous yet tediously expected team successes, hugely tainted by the failure to nail down a consistent starting XI place.
The failure to secure a position in such a dominant and attack-minded side has been made even more perplexing by the man actually in charge of selecting the team – Pep Guardiola.
Playing for an elite coach who has demonstrated clear evidence of knowing how best to use a diminutive number 10 in a way that benefits both the mercurial individual’s talent, and the team as a whole – by getting the best out of none other than Lionel Messi – painted the perfect scenario.
A scenario made even more appealing when Pep made it known he wanted Götze as his first signing for the Bavarian club.
Then, of course, there’s the sure-fire guarantee of success joining Bayern Munich brings. If it’s guaranteed success Götze wanted then it’s mission accomplished, at least domestically. On the international stage, the Boy Wonder destined for great things achieved the ultimate feat for his country by scoring the World Cup final’s winning goal – a destiny fulfilled, already, aged 21.
So why hasn’t it all been sunshine, Mario?
It’s somewhat contradictory to conclude Götze has fulfilled his destiny whilst conversely suggesting he’s yet to fulfil his massive potential, but this appears to be the case.
Despite winning back-to-back league titles, and the German, UEFA Super and FIFA Club World cups under Guardiola’s tutelage, Götze has found himself languishing on the bench more than he would have hoped (playing 90 minutes in just 16 league games last season) or expected – with Bayern’s summer acquisitions in the forms of Arturo Vidal and Douglas Costa adding further to the competition for places this season.
Götze alluded to these apparent complications after a recent pre-season friendly, fuelling speculation of his unhappiness with the situation, and some even suggesting a fall-out with Guardiola.
I played a pretty good game today. Now we will see what will happen. It is clear that the last two years were not that easy.
We will see if he [Guardiola] will speak to me more often. Now I will just let things come to me. For anything else we will have to see.
Both men moved quickly to dismiss any apparent tension between the two, with Guardiola responding to reports of the player’s imminent sale by cryptically stating:
Mario’s got a contract here, he’s my player and he’s a great player too. In my mind, he is going to be a Bayern Munich player all season. He’s a top player, but I know that it’s not only the coach who decides here. It depends on the club.
For his part, Götze shot down the way his original comments were sensationalised, spoke positively about the club, but again signed off with a tiny hint that all isn’t quite right.
I was explicitly asked, whether the coach will speak to me more often, and I neutrally responded in an objective manner. It had no relevance, it wasn’t a statement, no message to the coach and I think for the future I don’t want the journalists to pick certain phrases of my response.
We got some really good players. I’m really happy here and speaking for me, I’m happy to be able to play here – with the fans, with the club – I think it’s a nice challenge and yes, I’m very happy with my surrounding and with the things happening here, but like already mentioned, there are always two sides of a coin.
Götze’s perceived unhappiness in failing to convince those around Bayern that he’s worthy of being a regular starter has led to a questioning of the playmaker’s temperament. It can’t simply be a coaching clash – with Joachim Löw finding similar difficulties integrating him consistently in the national team’s starting line-up.
So, is it simply a case of adjusting his attitude and mentality to align with his undoubted talent, as some German legends have suggested?
Demanding Bayern CEO, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, was quoted in Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport as saying:
He’s got two years on his contract and I don’t know what his thoughts are. I’ve read what he said [to the media] but in the end it’s down to the player to decide.
Rummenigge also claimed if he were Götze’s agent he would advise the player to:
Stay at Bayern and step on the gas.
Germany’s former midfield general and Bayern star, Lothar Matthaus, also questioned Götze’s mentality (alongside another young German playmaker, Julian Draxler).
They’re good, young, technical. But they do not have the character of champions. They are always missing something to reach 100 per cent.
If you are Götze and you are not playing, you go up to the coach and impose yourself. But that does not happen.
So, whilst virtually everything has already happened to Mario in his young career (barring a European Cup win), conversely, it strangely feels like things haven’t happened on the pitch in Munich.
On the surface, he’s already achieved it all: the trophies, the lifestyle and adulation, the money, even the winning World Cup goal; but he still doesn’t have the most important thing that any player truly in love with the ball craves: the joy of regularly playing the game he adores.