Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Exclusive: Paul Joyce on World Cup winner Mario Gotze's £20m move to Liverpool

THERE IS an assured glory that comes with signing the man who won the World Cup, a sense of stature that inevitably suggests rivals have been out-flanked.

Yet the reality remains that should Mario Gotze seal a reunion with Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool, he will arrive at Anfield with plenty to prove.
Liverpool are confident of signing Mario Gotze from Bayern Munich for a cut-price fee
Liverpool are confident of signing Mario Gotze from Bayern Munich for a cut-price fee
Chiefly, that a career which has stagnated at Bayern Munich has merely hit a bump in the road. Also, that he retains the ambition and drive to rescale the heights which came so naturally to him as the chest trap and volley that brought Germany their prize in the Maracana two summers ago highlighted.

Klopp’s interest in Gotze is logical.

He was, after all, the coach who nurtured the teenager through the ranks at Borussia Dortmund, helping him take steps towards becoming the talent no less a judge than Franz Beckenbauer claimed could be Germany’s answer to Lionel Messi.

He is the manager who best summed up the intense feeling of loss when informed that Gotze would be leaving him to join Bayern Munich at the end of the 2013 season.
Jurgen Klopp has already added Joel Matip to his squad for next season. Who could join the Schalke star from the Bundesliga in the summer?
Jurgen Klopp has already added Joel Matip to his squad for next season. Who could join the Schalke star from the Bundesliga in the summer?
“It was like a heart attack,” Klopp said at the time. “At our training ground Michael Zorc [the general manager] walked in like somebody had died. He said: 'I have to tell you something. It's possible that …

“I called six or seven players who I knew were damaged in the heart. They thought they were not good enough – and they wanted to win together.

“That's the reason it hurt them so much. But Bayern told Mario: 'It's now or never.'

“I told him they will come next year. They will come in two years, and then three years.

“But he's 20 and he thought: 'I must go.' I know how difficult it will be to find a player to replace Götze but, next year, we will play differently. It just takes time."

And Klopp is also the man who has kept in touch with Gotze, via text messages, as his fortunes at Bayern have flat-lined, the sense from afar being one of incredulity that the player has not maintained his upward trajectory.

The challenge of setting Gotze, who will be 24 in June, back on course for glory is one which will appeal to Klopp, aware he is seeking to recruit someone already formatted to the style of football he wants to Liverpool to play.

He will believe that by handing Gotze a defined role at Anfield, and filling him with confidence, a switch inside the player will be flicked on once again.

Gotze seemingly thinks likewise given he has privately indicated to Liverpool that he is prepared to join them for a fee that could be less than £20m.

At Dortmund, Gotze excelled in the role of playmaker behind Robert Lewandowski where his quick-thinking made him the perfect foil and also in an attacking position on the right.

A defined role at Bayern has not followed. While injury has largely been responsible for Gotze starting only one Bundesliga game for Bayern since October, the scepticism coach Pep Guardiola now reserves for him has also undermined his chances of making the move a success.

If there is an element of intrigue, it is due to the fact that Liverpool appear strongest in the areas Gotze prefers with the likes of Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino and Adam Lallana already in situ.

But having eyed Gotze previously, Liverpool believe they are now in a position to finally land him.

For them it is the perfect storm: Klopp’s presence at the helm helping to entice a player he knows inside out, someone who is now available and at a price, given he is about to enter the final year of his contract, that makes him affordable.

All Gotze must do is show he remains the perfect player.

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