On 13 July 2014, Mario Gotze wrote himself into German football history by scoring the winning goal in a World Cup final, helping his nation to achieve their fourth international success in the process.
Fast-forward four years, and the hero in Brazil didn’t even make the cut for the 2018 edition. Fast-forward another two years, and the scorer of a winning goal in a World Cup final is soon to be without a club.
Illness and injury have halted the Borussia Dortmund star’s progress in those six years, so much so that now at the age of only 28, he is facing the prospect of being a free agent in the summer.
Gotze’s time with Der BVB has come to an end, and determined to start his career afresh in pastures new, the midfielder is looking for the right home to recapture the heights he reached in 2014. A pacy, tricky, and skilled dribbler, with some clinical shooting to boot, the German star would be a welcome addition to most squads in Europe.
And it seems that he is destined to make a move to Serie A, with a host of Italian sides all fluttering their eyelashes at the talented German. But which club should he choose? 90min takes a look at Gotze’s options for the coming season.
Let’s get this one out of the way, shall we? If you’re looking for regular game time, Juventus just isn’t the place for you. I Bianconeri have become a ruthless machine over the years, destroying everything and everyone in their wake.
And they do not have time for stragglers. Gotze needs a home where he can flourish at his own pace, and get back up to speed in the right conditions with a suitable style of play to aid him. With the current options at Maurizio Sarri’s disposal, the Dortmund man simply won’t get a look-in, and he’d be lost within months of arriving at J-Medical.
Not the one.
A club in decline, Milan will be looking to rebuild their failing squad once again this summer, after another miserable mid-table campaign. And one thing I Rossoneri are sorely missing is goals. The Serie A giants have managed to notch only 28 strikes in 26 matches this campaign, and that lacklustre tally stems from a complete lack of creativity in the midfield.
Gotze may be a missing link in that midfield, and his service and intelligent play could unlock the goalscoring potential of starlet Rafael Leao and the other misfiring Milan strikers. But make no mistake, I Rossoneri remain a club in chaos, and if you’re looking for a stable and loving home with a nurturing environment, you may wish to look elsewhere.
In another lifetime, this could have been a perfect match. Sadly, it’s a case of right place, wrong time for Gotze and Milan.
So what about their immediate rivals? Inter will have to offload plenty of stars before reinforcing their midfield, with the likes of Radja Nainggolan, Ivan Perisic, Matias Vecino and Borja Valero all expected to leave this summer.
But even if they do trim their bloated squad, will that leave space for Gotze? Well, probably not, is the answer. I Nerazzurri are blessed with some real riches in the centre of the park, as Stefano Sensi, Nicolo Barella and Christian Eriksen complete one of the fiercest midfield trios in Serie A.
And while Antonio Conte is at the helm, wingers are far from a priority – and Gotze wouldn’t make much of a wing-back. So, either he plays second fiddle and misses out on the first-team action he desires, or potentially plays off Romelu Lukaku in a little and large combo up top.
That’s not too bad an idea, actually…
Could there be a more exciting team to join in Europe right now? Gian Piero Gasperini has built the most outrageously entertaining and explosive team in Serie A, and the entire football world is waking up to the fact that Atalanta are a force to be reckoned with.
And their peculiar system centres around their attacking trident of Josip Ilicic, Alejandro Gomez and Duvan Zapata. All three players perform particular roles in the forward line, but Gomez and Gotze do share similar traits when going forward.
The Argentine enjoys the freedom of the left flank, but he can cut in and cause mayhem centrally whenever he wishes. This liberal outlook, coupled with hard-working players who are instructed to feed the forwards whenever possible, would suit Gotze down to the ground.
Gomez shows very few signs of slowing down, but at 32 years old, his time at the top table may be coming to an end. The heir to the throne, perhaps?
Now this just feels right. Roma underwent a complete revolution in the summer, hiring attack-minded coach Paulo Fonseca, and building a fast-paced style of play around possession and champagne football.
It hasn’t quite been the overriding success that I Giallorossi hoped for, but there are signs that, with the right players in place, Fonseca can build a team worthy of challenging near the top once again. And Gotze could become a crucial cog in this machine.
Arsenal star Henrikh Mkhitaryan has shone (when fit) at Roma this season, playing in the attacking midfield role behind focal point Edin Dzeko. With the Armenian unlikely to extend his loan spell beyond this campaign, Gotze could slot nicely into that role and thrive in an offensive and daring side.
Fonseca also loves having flexible players within his squad, and the German star could easily fill in on either flank when required too. And to top it off, Roma is famed in Italy for picking up more injuries than any other team, so should fitness issues befall Gotze once more, he’ll have plenty of company in the medical centre.
A match made in heaven.