“Show the world you’re better than Messi” were the words uttered to Mario Götze by Joachim Löw as the Bayern man was sent on at half-time of extra time during the 2014 World Cup final.
Those words spurred Götze on to score the winner in the 113th minute, becoming the first substitute to score in a World Cup final since Germany’s Rudi Voller accomplished the feat in the 1986 edition of the competition. It seemed like Götze’s time had come after rising through the ranks at Borussia Dortmund and becoming football’s hottest commodity just a year earlier, joining Bayern Munich in a controversial €37 million deal.
However, fast forward to 2016 and Götze was doing anything but taking the world by storm. With Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery on the flanks, it was always going to be hard for the German to consolidate a place in the starting eleven, but even when one or both of the duo were injured, Götze struggled to capitalize.
When Götze did start to gain some momentum, he was hampered by injuries and by the time he was fit, despite being regarded as the most professional player ever by Bayern coach, Pep Guardiola, it seemed the Spaniard had lost trust in the former Dortmund man, especially with the arrival of Douglas Costa in the summer of 2015.
Despite troubles in Munich, Joachim Löw selected Götze and started him in a forward role in Germany’s three group stage games at Euro 2016. However, Götze underwhelmed and was eventually replaced by Mario Gomez, not playing any part in Die Mannschaft‘s quarterfinal win over Italy and only coming on as a substitute in the 2-0 semifinal loss to France.
From being one of the most highly pursued players in world football a couple of years ago, Götze had now stagnated so much that not even the elite clubs like Real Madrid, Juventus and Manchester United were ready to take a punt on him.
In desperate need of a fresh start, Götze moved back to Dortmund in a €23 million deal earlier this month, ironically replacing the man who replaced him in the Signal Iduna Park in Henrikh Mkhitaryan. Reunited with Marco Reus, Götze will now be looking to pick up from where he left off back in 2013. However, this might be his last chance at fulfilling his potential.
It only goes to show how much of a talent Götze was that after all these years, he’s still only 24 years old; but it’s absolutely paramount that he now performs for Die Borussen. It’s a big show of faith by Dortmund to buy back their star who had “betrayed” them as well as handing him the keys to the proverbial car–especially after some Dortmund fans voiced their opinion on his return.
Ever since he left Dortmund, it’s as if Götze has lost his explosive ability–being able to create something out of nothing and provide that magical spark in a game. He can still cover ground, do the dirty work and spray passes around but he hasn’t been world class by any stretch of the imagination for Bayern.
It can be argued that he wasn’t given enough consistent game time, faith or trust at Bayern, especially compared to his days with Jürgen Klopp but with Thomas Tuchel at the helm, Götze will not only get the fresh start he wants but will truly be valued within the team, playing virtually every game. Mkhitaryan himself had on and off performances under Klopp but under Tuchel, turned out a different and more composed player, with his performances earning him a move to Manchester United.
Now in a side which will be built around him, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Reus, Götze could really thrive and put the world back on notice. If he doesn’t get his fairytale return though, and it’s more of the same like these last few seasons, Götze could find himself drifting into obscurity, very similarly to Antonio Cassano or Yoann Gourcuff, who were both also immensely talented prospects who eventually fizzled out and never fulfilled their true potential.
It’s now or never for Super Mario.