Last weekend looked like a massive relief for Mario Götze. He terminated the contract with his attention-seeking agency Sportstotal and talked freely about his time in Munich, possibly for the first time ever. “Now I’m gonna do everything possible to be in top form during the Euro and for the first training session with Carlo Ancelotti. I want to fight for my place – at Bayern and, before that, the Euro”. Those are the words Götze chose on Facebook. At least as meaningful was the chosen hashtag. #PartOfBayern instead of #PartOfGötze – a perfect symbol for the fresh start of the player. Götze – whose marketing face doesn’t fit his actual personality at all, as friends confirmed – as part of the club instead of him being the main piece of an insane marketing strategy.
Over the last few days, Götze has chosen the right words. He did exactly what many adviced him to do. A fresh start, with a focus on the sport itself. Finally proving that he’s ready to fight and overcome opposition. It could’ve been such a nice story, the positive reactions of many Bayern fans were telling.
On Thursday, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge destroyed that new-found harmony in an interview with Kicker magazine. He made it clear that he’s irritated by Götze’s change of heart. Rummenigge said that the club has told Götze how they feel, that it’s difficult to valuate Götze’s statements – especially with the contract length (one year) in mind.
They’re very odd statements from a club that has publicly celebrated the importance of contracts for decades. Uli Hoeneß once said that “FC Bayern has never chased away a player” when he tried to demonstrate what makes Bayern different from some other international top clubs.
As of now, it’s not exactly certain what those messages are supposed to mean. Is the club really attempting to get rid of Götze or has Götze himself set up a scenario where he’s not pictured as the one leaving but as the one sent away? The upcoming weeks will be telling.
New chance with Ancelotti?
It’s not crazy to think that Götze’s abilities are enough to help the club. Except for the second half of the current season, he has always played regularly when fit – and very well in the first 1.5 years. The struggles began in 2015 where he didn’t play well in the closing stages of 14-15 and faced injury problems in 15-16, despite a good start to the campaign. In 114 appearances under Guardiola, Götze scored 36 goals, making him the fourth-best goal scorer of that era. What he really lacked was a position in the system where he could show all his strengths (ball control, fast reactions, working in tight spaces, finishing accuracy). The left wing wasn’t that position, the forward position was blocked by Lewandowski, the free-roaming role was blocked by Müller, a playmaking role didn’t exist. Götze’s best performances came from central positions. In the 2014 cup final, he even played well as a central midfielder with defensive tasks.
The arrival of Ancelotti means a clean slate. The Italian coach has played different formations throughout his career. He’s relied on traditional playmakers such as Pirlo or Kaka. He’s done without playmakers, using connecting players such as Lampard in a central role. He’s even used a winger like Angel Di Maria in a more central position, as happened in the asymmetrical 4-3-3 in Madrid. Surely he could come up with a solution for Götze as well.
The plan to focus on nothing but the player Mario Götze in the upcoming weeks and months was an honorable one. As Rummenigge’s statements prove, it was a naive one as well. Nobody knows what’s going on behind closed doors. If the 23-year-old is serious about his idea to make it in Munich, Rummenigge failed to show the appropriate empathy and support. It would be a bad signal and not fitting to what Bayern have preached for decades now. If however it is Götze who uses this situation for his own advantage, then Rummenigge’s reaction is understandable and only natural.
Sicher scheint momentan nur eines. Die Diskussion um Mario Götze wird weitergehen.
Only one thing is certain at this point: the Götze saga will live on.