Watching Toni Kroos ready himself for a free kick in extra time against Sweden is a far cry from where the Nationalmannschaft found themselves just four summers ago in South America. Here, Kroos was forced to place a stunning goal in the back of the net for the opportunity of survival, a place Germany has rarely found themselves under the leadership of Joachim Löw. As impressive as the strike from Kroos was, as was his play in the 2014 Word Cup, he wasn’t the story following the triumphs of Brazil like he has been in Russia. That honour belonged Mario Götze, the young superstar from Memmingen who made memories for an entire generation of Germans.
At the time of Germany’s dominance and subsequent World Cup victory in 2014, Götze was an exciting and emerging player on the world stage following his football tutelage having played for Germany’s two domestic giants Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich. It was his heroics, in the 113th minute taking a cross to his chest, then to his left foot, and ultimately past a hapless Romero that brought another World Cup trophy home to Frankfurt. Götze was a national treasure and his career looked to have the trajectory of legends. He was the phenom of all phenoms in the eyes of the footballing world.
Fast forward to World Cup 2018 and Götze’s career couldn’t be in a more perilous state. His decline started with a series of injuries that have plagued the attacker in the same elongated manner than that of Daniel Sturridge. The 2017-2018 campaign saw Götze play in 32 games in all competitions, the most he’s played since the 2014-2015 campaign. Yet, his production has suffered and the man with the amazing ability to finish has only netted four times in the past two seasons. To further amplify his decline, Götze wasn’t even a thought for Russia and hasn’t played for the national side since 2016.
So why, given all this, are the Liverpool links with Götze so omnipresent? Primarily because long ago Jürgen Klopp turned Götze into the absolute menace of a player. Touch, vision, possession, balance, speed, and guile, Götze possessed all of them during Klopp’s tenure. Götze’s time at Die Borussen was nothing less than mouthwatering for admirers, and Klopp was the maestro at using to Götze to batter teams into absolute submission. The very moment Klopp joined Liverpool as manager, the connections to Götze began and failed to subside, hoping to reunite the magic once again at Anfield.
The connections between Götze and LFC are emerging again this summer, with Götze’s injury record catching up to him and new directions at BVB. Götze’s transfer link has shifted though, this time as a reclamation project. The price tag for Götze is not nearly what it once was, making Götze perhaps the biggest drop in price for a young player between two World Cups in modern football. Can Klopp do with Götze what he did for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlin, or is Götze physically unable to play in the same manner he once was? Watching Götze in 2018 is not nearly the same as his pre-World Cup 2014 glory. His vision and touch will never fail him, and the mind of truly world class player still shows in his thinking, but the tenacity and vibrancy of his play is not the same. Even the most staunch of BVB supporters would have to admit that Götze is just not what he once was.
For Liverpool then, his potential transfer is a question of ambition and direction. A transfer like Gözte made sense in years past when the club tried to repeatedly to get blood from a turnip, but the landscape at Liverpool is much different in 2018. Götze, regardless of the bargain price tag, is simply a low-risk investment that the club shouldn’t have to make after their recent success. A move for Götze by Liverpool feels eerily like so many transfer moves in the Turkish Süper Lig. There, players with big names but even bigger questions are often given high money contracts to try to reclaim their former glory – which rarely works.
The second chapter for Götze and Klopp should have happened if the football gods had gotten their way. Unfortunately, for LFC supporters and football fanatics alike, the stars never aligned the way they should have. Today, Götze is different, but more importantly, Liverpool Football Club is vastly different. It is for this reason that Liverpool should wish Götze the best of luck and dream of what might have been. While Götze may never ultimately play again under Klopp, the football he offered in the days gone by will remain. We can always visit his glory through YouTube clips and memories, but this club needs to think about trophies. Götze simply does not increase that chance at this moment, and for that reason, it’s best to press forward without the Götze project.