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They often say that going back to your old club is rarely a success. But after a tough couple of seasons at Bayern Munich Mario Götze will be hoping that a return to Borussia Dortmund can kick-start his career.
Still only 24, Götze has struggled with injuries and form since scoring the winning goal in the World Cup Final in 2014, a moment every footballer dreams of. Returning to what he describes as his “home”, the Dortmund academy product has a lot to prove, particularly to fans who are still hurting from his controversial exit in 2013 to big rivals Bayern.
Once touted as a future Ballon d’Or winner, and labelled the “German Messi” by Germany legend Franz Beckenbauer, there are reasons to believe that Götze can overcome his years of Bavarian woe and recreate the magic as a success at Dortmund.
Here are four ways in which returning to BVB can get Götze back to his best…
— Borussia Dortmund (@BVB) July 21, 2016
1) Back to his natural position
Mario Götze is a creative midfielder who likes to play behind a lone striker. In his first spell at Dortmund, Jürgen Klopp utilised Götze as the main creator after the sale of Shinji Kagawa to Manchester United. The combination between him and Lewandowski was spectacular.
However, in recent seasons Götze has become a victim of the ‘false 9’ system for club and country. Arguably Götze’s biggest strength has proven to be his weakness, his football intelligence enabling him to play in various roles without actually cementing a place in the starting line-up.
During the recent European Championships Götze drew criticism for his performances, with Mario Gomez eventually preferred up front and becoming a more influential figure.
By returning to Dortmund Götze can expect to play as an attacking midfielder in Thomas Tuchel’s preferred 4-2-3-1 system, operating behind Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. The central attacking midfield role is a position Götze openly believes suits him best:
“There have been games where I’ve played out wide that haven’t gone too badly, but every player has a favourite position…mine’s in the middle.”
If Tuchel gives Götze the responsibility of main creator there is no reason why the combination between him and Aubameyang can’t be as successful as the Götze / Lewandowski partnership that led Dortmund to league success and a Champions league final.
2) Tuchel’s man-management
“Under Guardiola I have especially improved in tactical terms. His ideas, his philosophy, the relay races with the ball – that’s something I didn’t know about in this way before.”
However, the attacking midfielder failed to strike a close personal relationship with Guardiola, something he enjoyed with Klopp, who acted as a father figure as well as a manager.
The similarities between Jürgen Klopp and current Dortmund manager Thomas Tuchel are striking. Both had relatively unsuccessful playing careers, both led Mainz 05 to great success in the early stages of their managerial careers. Like Klopp, Tuchel also places great emphasis on attacking football:
“There’s definitely a style that’s been attributed to me, that we brought to the table at Mainz: pace going forward and attack-minded football. I prefer certain qualities, an active playing style, bold defending and pacy play in attack,” Tuchel has previously said.
Tuchel showed in his first season at Dortmund his ability to make players better, with Aubameyang cementing himself as one of Europe’s best strikers, whilst Henrikh Mkhitaryan was given the confidence to become the heartbeat of the team.
Tuchel places great emphasis on putting the players first, highlighting a need to “engage with the needs of all the players”.
Such an approach can get the best out of Götze, who more than anything needs to feel important again. Having revitalised Borussia Dortmund in 12 months, there is every possibility Tuchel can do the same for Mario Götze.
— Borussia Dortmund (@BVB) August 1, 2016
3) Reference point not also-ran
Tuchel has constructed a young team who will look to Götze for inspiration. The likes of Emre Mor, Ousmane Dembele, Marc Bartra and Sebastian Rode have all been signed this summer to join young talents already at the club such as Matthias Ginter and Julian Weigl.
At Bayern Munich Götze was surrounded by high profile stars like Franck Ribery, Arjen Robben, Thomas Muller and Robert Lewandowski and this environment hindered – perhaps even intimidated – the German international.
Already 24, Götze has five Bundesliga titles to his name (two with Dortmund, three at Bayern) and three DFB Pokal triumphs. This winning mentality will be invaluable as Dortmund look to end Bayern’s three-year domestic dominance.
Not many players in the current Dortmund team have experience of winning the domestic title, which automatically makes Götze a key figure for his new team. The attacking midfielder should relish this responsibility, something he was not afforded at Bayern as he dropped down the pecking order.
Furthermore, Götze returns to a Dortmund side that has close friend Marco Reus still at the club. Reus and Götze combined for just one season before the latter made the move to Munich, but the results were spectacular.
Reus famously said in the past “if money wasn’t an object, I would bring Götze back.”
Now the close friends are reunited and this should help Reus’ best buddy settle quickly.
4) Point to prove
Perhaps one of the biggest reasons why the £22 million move could be a huge success is the motivation Götze has to win back the support of the Borussia Dortmund fans.
When Götze made the move to Munich in 2013 he angered the Dortmund fans, who felt betrayed by one of their own and made their feelings clear with a number of insulting banners.
To try and build a relationship with the fans, Götze has since admitted that the move to Bayern Munich was unsuccessful and that he fully understands the anger at the time. Using his Facebook account, Götze stated:
“When I switched from Borussia Dortmund to Bayern Munich in 2013, that was a conscious decision that I will not hide myself from today. Three years later, at 24 years of age, I look with different eyes at my former decision.
“I understand that back then many fans could not understand my decision. When I return to my home, I want to try and convince everyone – especially those who do not receive me with open arms – with my performances.”
Nuri Sahin and Shinji Kagawa are two examples of players that have returned to Dortmund and maintained excellent relationships with the fanbase, and although neither player joined Dortmund’s fierce rivals, should Mario Götze produce the performances that won supporters’ hearts in his first spell, he could be the prodigal son returned home.
In this current transfer market, where players are signing for astronomical fees, signing a World Cup winner who has the best years still ahead of him for £22 million seems like a bargain.
Götze has the added motivation of proving Bayern Munich wrong for lacking the confidence to play him in the biggest games. A return ‘home’ could be the best decision he makes in his career.
(main image credit via bvb.de.)