Dortmund (dpa) – Eindhoven instead of Berlin, Eredivisie instead of Bundesliga, Dutch tranquility instead of big city hype. In the long search for a new impetus for his stalled career, Mario Götze struck gold.
In the hope of more play and appreciation, the last clubless world champion from 2014 signed a two-year contract with PSV Eindhoven – and not, as recently expected, with Hertha BSC. “It is very surprising that it turned out that way,” commented Götze. “I feel ready for a completely different challenge and I am confident that this will be a very pleasant transition for me.”
After months of speculation about a move to AS Monaco, a return to FC Bayern and the interest from Berlin, the second in the Dutch league, who was coached by former Leverkusen coach Roger Schmidt, announced the coup late on Tuesday. “I had a lot of offers this summer, but I am an emotional person and make my own decisions,” said the winning goal scorer of the World Cup final in Rio. Talks with his new coach tipped the scales: “Roger Schmidt, the team that fits. I’m in the right place to play my football. I want to help the team grow”
The dreary existence as a noble reservist, which last bothered the 28-year-old in Dortmund, should end. His wish to win the Champions League, expressed during the most recent club search, is unlikely to come true in Eindhoven. After stints with the industry giants from Dortmund and Munich, Götze in Eindhoven has to be content with the Europa League for the time being. Götze’s signature stirs hope for better times for the former European championship winners (1988) and UEFA Cup winners (1978): “We are very proud,” said PSV director John de Jong.
The idol, who has recently been tormented, is extremely receptive to such positive signals. After his first professional years with a steep curve of success, two championships and a cup win in Dortmund, his star began to decline when he switched to FC Bayern in 2013. Even the historic World Cup goal in Rio could not reverse this trend. In Munich Götze was champion three times, but never really happy. And the return to Dortmund in 2016 did not contribute to the hoped-for turnaround. A metabolic disorder threw him early on. Therefore, he missed the Dortmunders almost the entire first half of 2017.
Most recently there was no room for Götze in the system of coach Lucien Favre. Nevertheless, BVB negotiated for a long time about an extension of the contract dated until 2020. Because the former superstar was higher on the payroll than it reflected his athletic importance to the team, these talks were unsuccessful.
Unlike his former World Cup colleagues André Schürrle and Benedikt Höwedes, who ended their careers surprisingly early, the midfielder is daring a fresh start. A photo on the homepage of his new club shows him in a fighting pose with clenched fists. The decisive factor for Götze’s success is likely to be how he comes to terms with the very running-intensive football favored by Schmidt.
Although he was not bound by transfer deadlines as a clubless player, time was pressing. Because all European Cup participants had to submit their player entry lists for the Champions League and the Europa League to UEFA by Tuesday. “Mario was interested immediately after our head coach Roger Schmidt contacted him. And in the end it turned out to be the stroke of luck we had hoped for,” said de Jong.
The Götze transfer is accompanied by good wishes from Berlin. “I wish him the best that he can regain his old strength. It was a deserved player in the Bundesliga who is still young enough,” said Hertha coach Bruno Labbadia. Manager Michael Preetz was similarly benevolent: “I wish him every success and that he will be able to play his best football in the next few years.”