Mario Gotze joined Bayern Munich in the summer of 2013 ready to be the club's next great star. He had become the talisman for Borussia Dortmund and was a Germany regular, all at the age of 20. A year later, he scored the winning goal in the World Cup final. But here we stand, in 2016, and Bayern Munich want no part of him.
Bayern CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge didn't outright say "get out," but he might as well have. He told Gotze that neither he nor Bayern's new manager, Carlo Ancelotti, saw much use for him at the Allianz Arena and that if he wants to play, he'll have to make a move somewhere else.
"I had talks with him (Mario) and Ancelotti. Mario knows the thoughts of Bayern," Rummenigge told Kicker. "Everything was clearly and seriously explained to Mario.
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"He knows what the club thinks and what the new coach thinks. Mario has to evaluate for himself whether he wants to play constantly."
With Bayern, from the club's CEO down to their new manager, in agreement that he doesn't have much of a place at the club, it's probably best to go.
Gotze will only be 24 years old at the start of next season and while he failed to find his place in Pep Guardiola's Bayern for a variety of reasons, injuries very much a big one, he's still a tremendously skillful player who was dominating the Bundesliga not too long ago. Suffice to say, he won't be short on interested clubs.
Where should Gotze sign?
The Blues went into this season depending on Eden Hazard to lead the attack and paid for it as the Belgian struggled all season long. Hazard got better as the season went on and he could return to his sparkling form next season, but Chelsea probably don't want to be entirely dependent on it.
Gotze would be a terrific fit whether Hazard is back to his best or not. If Hazard has issues, Gotze is the heart of the attack. If he is clicking then Chelsea have an attacking band of three of Hazard and Willian flanking Gotze. That would be terrifying for opposing defenses.
The hitch could be Antonio Conte and the 3-5-2 formation he favors. If he brings that to Chelsea, and there's no guarantee he will, then Gotze isn't quite the same fit unless Conte thinks the German can play effectively as a second striker.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is out at PSG. The Parisians still have plenty of talented players, but the attack needs an injection of quality to help mitigate the absence of Ibrahimovic. Enter Gotze.
The German could be a creative force that doesn't just pick up goals and assists, but also helps integrate the rest of the team and raise their level of play. Plus, money certainly isn't an issue at PSG.
Fitting into a 3-5-2 would be a problem at Juventus, just like it might be under Conte at Chelsea. But again, that's moot if Gotze can play as a second striker and him dropping deeper into the midfield isn't out of the question either. A team with Gotze and Paulo Dybala is pretty terrifying.
Good luck convincing Bayern Munich to sell him back to Dortmund. That's about as likely as BVB being able to meet his wage demands.
This is the easiest choice and, frankly, probably the best one. Gotze was amazing for Jurgen Klopp at Dortmund and there's no reason to think he wouldn't be a good fit now. He fits Klopp's sytem, they have an existing relationship and the transition to the Premier League shouldn't be too problematic.
It's the most natural fit Gotze can find. It eliminates most of the variables that come with a transfer and Liverpool aren't a tiny club. They may not be in Europe next season and their eighth place finish was hardly inspiring, but they have a massive following and have a chance to jump right back into the top-four mix. Gotze could be the key to that as Klopp ships out some Reds to make way for a rebuilt team.
Gotze needs to play matches, and trying to impress or even adjust to a new manager will make that tough -- but that's not an issue with Klopp. Liverpool will be able to pay Gotze plenty, and the Reds could find themselves back in European competition before long.
There's still no guarantee that Gotze will leave Bayern, and Germany manager Jogi Low has said that he believes Ancelotti will give Gotze a chance to prove himself with the Bavarians. But even if Gotze chooses to take that chance, it's possible he doesn't crack the Bayern team by the end of August and opens himself to a move then.
Liverpool are the natural fit, and all indications are they are the one club that is very clearly interested in getting a deal done. That might be best for all involved because Gotze's time at Bayern looks like it is coming to an end.
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