What might have been had Mario Gómez left Bayern Munich for Liverpool?

Kit Holden
Mario Gnmez 300x225 What might have been had Mario Gómez left Bayern Munich for Liverpool?

Mario Gómez came close to joining Liverpool after a frustrating start to his Bayern career

What a difference three games make. Only two or three weeks ago, Bayern Munich were said to be in the middle of a crisis. Three games and twenty goals later, and normality is near to being restored in Munich. Albeit against largely mediocre opposition, Bayern’s 7-1, 7-0 and 6-0 wins against Hoffenheim, FC Basel and Hertha BSC respectively see them reassert their position as the most feared team in Germany.

So why the sudden change? It is not by chance that Bayern’s recent return to their default psychological state of supreme, but justified, arrogance has coincided with the return to fitness of their talisman Bastian Schweinsteiger. Nor is there a false correlation between Bayern’s revival and the resurgence in the form of Arjen Robben and Franck Ribéry. But of the twenty goals that Bayern have scored in the last two weeks, eight of them have been scored by one man alone.

Mario Gómez has been one of the few Bayern players whose form doesn’t seem to dip with the rest of the team’s. In their disappointing, trophyless season last year, Gómez scored 28 goals to become the Bundesliga’s top scorer, and a year later, he looks set to defend his crown with 22 goals in 25 games. His four goals against Basel last week nearly equalled a record that Lionel Messi had set a mere six days previously, and with ten Champions League goals in total this season, he is second only to the best player in the world.

Not that he scores in the same way as Messi, of course. With Gómez, there are rarely any glorious 40 yard runs, or effortless chips over a helpless goalkeeper. Despite his Spanish heritage, Gómez’ goalscoring theory is Teutonic to its core. His ability to poke ball after ball into the back of the net from six yards is a sepia tinted visual homage to the glory days of Gerd Müller. He is the Messi of tap-ins, Der Bomber reincarnated, except with much better hair.

Such a portrayal of the 27-year-old striker is, perhaps, bordering a little on the caricature. To say that Gómez only scores tap ins is to ignore his ability to hold the ball up, his remarkably impressive footwork for a man of 6′2”, and not to mention his blistering strike into the top corner for his fourth goal against Basel. But scoring, and scoring frequently rather than gloriously, remains Gómez’ greatest ability. 103 league goals in the last five seasons are testimony to that.

It is an ability, moreover, which has inspired incessant interest from the self proclaimed Best League In The World. Hardly a transfer window goes by without some rumour being cooked up about a Gómez move to the Premier League. As recently as January, both Chelsea and Liverpool were reported to have had high value bids turned down by Bayern.

It is Liverpool, however, who have come closest to signing the former Stuttgart striker. In the summer of 2010, after a turbulent first season at Bayern, Gómez looked set to leave the Bundesliga. Under Louis van Gaal, he had been Bayern’s fourth choice forward (albeit one who managed to score 10 league goals), and Roy Hodgson saw an opportunity. A £16m bid was lined up, and, one year after leaving Stuttgart for around £30m, Gómez was days away from calling time on a disappointing Bayern career.

In true FC Bayern style, though, the club refused to make a £15m loss on one of Germany’s most prolific strikers. Manager Christian Nerlinger, with the appropriate Bavarian hypocrisy, declared that “FC Bayern is not a superstore, where other clubs to come and help themselves to our players”. It was also reported that Liverpool did not want to pay Gómez £125,000 a week wages. So frugality won out, and six months later, they shelled out £35m on Andy Carroll.

With Liverpool reduced to rejoicing over a Carling Cup victory and Bayern third favourites to win the Champions League, it is a severe, and very Liverpudlian, case of what might have been. Bayern, having perhaps learnt their lesson after letting Mats Hummels go to Dortmund in 2008, and seeing him beat them to the title three years later, were either very fortuitous or very insightful when they decided to hang on to Gómez. He has repaid them handsomely for their loyalty, and while his nicknames, from Super Mario to Gomessi, may constantly change, the day when Mario Gómez stops scoring goals is a long way off yet.

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  • AFC Ajax

    Right, that transfer move almost happened in August 2010. Roy Hodgson was the manager back then. Under him, Gomez would have struggled badly. He needs players to create chances for him and Liverpool under Hodgson created nothing. Just hoofed the ball towards Torres. By the time Carroll was signed, Super Mario was already an established starter at Bayern.

    Make no mistake I rate him highly as a player. Just 2 years ago I was slating him for being useless at Bayern and he proved me wrong. Better still, he managed to convince the notoriously stubborn van Gaal that he was worth the effort! Even last season he netted almost as many as Messi in the Champions League though his side, knocked out in the round of 16, played 5 games less. He might have flourished in Dalglish’s Liverpool, with Suarez and others creating lots of chances for him. But I prefer seeing him doing it with Bayern.

  • Brave_Lee_Flea

    And perhaps there also lies a lesson that we shouldn’t lose faith just yet with Andy Carroll.

  • Martin Nickson

    Nice blog and interesting speculation.  This is a question which I have to admit I dont know the answer to  – can you think of a few successful examples of a striker who has profited in the BUndesliga successfully transferring to to UK? I know a few midfield men who have transferred very successfully – Scouse Didi being a typical example. A few defenders to – our own Marcus Babbel would have done very well I think but for the illness (what I mean is he would have gotten better and better). But I cant think of strikers who’ve transferred well from Germany. Its Not just for Liverpool, with the obvious exception of that diving, Tube travelling eco-nut I dont think strikers transfer well from northern Europe leagues. I might be wrong, but we’ll see how Podoloski does for the Gunners. I dont think there’s anything wrong with the German and other leagues -0 from what I’ve seen they are as good as any (people claiming League X or Y is the best League in the world are a bit deranged in my opinion – surely its a very subjective thing).

  • ronandronnie

    Bayern went through their “crisis” because Ribery and Robben were not playing.Gomez is just a goal-hanging poacher.Credit where credit is due,without Ribery and Schweinsteiger `the lederhosen` would be in deep cack. 

  • Sechzger

    ronandronnie, what are you on about. Robben and Ribery were playing when Bayern were in crisis, too. They have had a better recent spell, yes, but so has Gomez. the key implementary change Heynckes made before Bayerns turnaround was to move Lahm to rightback, where both Boateng and Rafinha have been useless, and to move young Alaba, who gets along great with Ribery, to left back, where he has done a job that would do Lahm proud.. 
    Gomez though: He scores them with his left, he scores them with his right, he scores them with his head. He’s got a powerful long range shot, he has good ball control for a physical player. Yes, a number of his goals – but surely not all of them – are tap-ins, but you need fantastic positioning and match awareness to BE THERE to tap them in in the first place. To dismiss him as “just a poacher” is simply parroting an absurdly popular but madly wrong assessment made by people who saw him stumble at EURO 2008. But then again, I’m happy for you to dismiss and underestimate Germanys players, that has never been to our disadvatage, see 2010.

  • ronandronnie

     Sorry if you think I was denigrating German football,I much prefer it to the EPL and there are some really great players and fans in the Bundeslige.But i do believe Gomez is overrated and it Irks me no end that Bayern München feel they are in crisis when they are not 10 points ahead of ` the riffraff`.
    BTW he was bloody awful last night against Gladbach because Ribery and Robben were played out of the game

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