Hey everybody! It’s that time of year again, and once again Liverpool are “linked” with Mario Götze. The 24 year old World Cup winner returned to Borrussia Dortmund this past summer for a fee of around 20m, but yet again Mario has struggled to find his feet. This has become a common theme with the German since his initial transfer from BVB to FC Bayern in 2013, as he’s yet to kick on from his breakout 12/13 season at Dortmund in which he bagged 16 goals and 20 assists in 44 appearances. Unfortunately though, his injury record since has been somewhat less than stellar. In the years since his 12/13 season he’s missed a total of 41 matches from 12 injuries. The young German has had enough ups and downs already in his early career that it’s surprising that he’s only 24 years old, and it certainly presents a head-scratching conundrum for Klopp and Liverpool’s transfer team.
Assuming that the links are at least somewhat real and Liverpool has at least a small modicum of interest in Gotze, what should we do? Well for me, a lot of that depends on a couple of factors. For starters, we don’t need him nearly as much as it looked like we did last summer. Lallana has skyrocketed to heights very few thought possible, and on top of that Götze has really struggled to get anything going this season as his campaign has been setback by 4 separate injuries this season alone, causing him to miss 11 games and counting, as he’s not expected to be fit until early to mid March. On top of these injuries, Götze has struggled mightily on the pitch this season as well, contributing a meager 2 goals and 2 assists in 16 appearances, which averages out to be a goal or assist every 293 minutes. I hope I don’t need to tell you how bad that is, ESPECIALLY for an attacking midfielder. In comparison, Adam Lallana who’s played a very similar needle/attacking midfield role to Götze this year, has bagged 7 goals and 7 assists in 27 appearances. This puts Adam on pace for a goal or assist every 143 minutes. That’s more than twice as frequently as Mario Gotze, and both have mostly played the same center midfield position. This doesn’t even account for Adam’s other strengths such as his work rate, quick feet, two footedness, and his ability to find pockets of space between the lines and move the ball forward from there quickly. That’s not to say that Götze doesn’t offer some of these traits, but it’s hard to see how or where he would regularly start over Lallana, assuming that would be the role Klopp prefers him in were he to come.
Another concern of mine is the price. The fee being thrown around the Twitterverse these days seems to be in the region of 20m. Given that Götze is a World Cup winner, has both international and Champion’s League experience, and is still 24, 20m may seem like a pretty good bargain. However his career has stalled out, and arguably regressed ever since he was sold to Bayern in 2013. Ever since his 12/13 season his appearances, goals, and assist returns have all been on a decline, and the last couple of years have been pretty rough for Mario in terms of both playing time and development. His constant injuries have held back his development along with questions about his attitude at Bayern, leading to last summers transfer “fiasco” between Liverpool, Dortmund, and Götze. In addition to all of this, it has to be pointed out that Bayern sold Götze to BVB for around 20m, and in my opinion it would be insulting of BVB to ask for 20m from Liverpool following what looks to be one of Götze’s worst professional seasons. If the asking price was 20m I’d turn down Dortmund outright, but I personally would be willing to haggle over price if they were asking for around 15m or less.
Now all of this sounds pretty damning for Götze, and it definitely is, but the fact remains that he’s still 24, and there’s still so much time for him to turn his career around. For more comparison, Adam Lallana is now 28 and had his break out in the latter half of last season when he was 27. Due to his regression the last couple of years, Götze has been labeled an early-bloomer, but that might not be true. It’s clear that Pep’s Bayern wasn’t the best place for his development, and I’ve already mentioned the injury nightmare he’s had over the last few years. Obviously the last thing Liverpool wants is more injury crises, but assuming we bulk up the squad over the summer, it’s possible that if he were to get injured, there would be 2 or 3 players capable of stepping in with minimal to no quality drop.
For me though, the most appealing part of Mario Götze is his versatility. Recently he’s been playing in the center midfield, however he has a lot of experience playing as a false 9 with Bayern and with Germany, and if Klopp were reluctant to purchase a marquee striker this summer, Götze would likely be able to step into Firmino’s position as needed. He can also play on either wing as well, and it’s entirely possible that Klopp would be willing to use him in 4 or 5 different positions within our usual XI. A player who can fit multiple roles and produce quality in those multiple roles are rare, and I’d love it if Klopp at the least investigated the possibility of bringing him here. I don’t necessarily expect Götze to turn his career around since Mario Balotelli soured me on that idea, but if there were any manager in the world capable of turning around Mario Götze, I’d put my money on Klopp.
Personally, I could go either way on this transfer. The potential upsides are exciting, but there’s far from any guarantees that he will be able to produce for us. As I said, I’d love for Klopp to look into this, but if the transfer rises above 15-17m, I would definitely have some reservations. It’s hard for me to have concrete opinions about transfer strategy at the moment though; I’d rather see out the rest of the season and form my opinions around the rest of Liverpool and Götze’s seasons. Let’s just hope we can finish strong and secure Champion’s League before players like Götze decide they don’t want to come here.