Arsenal ‘target’ Mario Götze’s surprise decision is a slap in the face for the Premier League
For a long time now, it has been one of Dortmund’s worst kept secrets: Mario Götze belongs to an elite group of young European players who are coveted by almost every single one the continent’s major clubs. Since his breakthrough, title winning season last year, the 19-year-old Germany midfielder has been linked with everyone from FC Bayern and Manchester United to Real Madrid and Barcelona. His club were even forced to ward off a highly uncharacteristic £35m bid from Arsène Wenger last summer, a bid which has since seen rumours of ever escalating fees litter even the most respectable gossip columns.
Now, though, as yet another European prodigy bluntly turns down the advances of the Best League In The World, the Premier League can but feel a little offended. Götze’s decision to renew his contract with German Champions BVB until the summer of 2016 has come as something of a surprise, even for those at the club itself.
A surprise, and an admirable rebuke, it seems, to the modern assumption that the bigger the club, the more attractive it is for the young player. For all Dortmund’s brilliance in the Bundesliga, their sensible, long term approach has, for many, seen them sacrifice potential success in Europe. For a player like Götze, it was assumed, it would only be a matter of time before he became frustrated, and began to look elsewhere.
His willingness to sign a new contract with BVB, however, is, in the words of Dortmund’s General Manager Hans Joachim Watzke, “an advert for continuity and sustainability”. It is an endorsement of a club at which, says Götze “everybody knows how comfortable I feel.” He went on to explain his decision with heart warming, local boy humility: “it’s the complete package here: my family, the coach, the team, the stadium, the fans, all these elements were very important to me, and so I believe it’s the right step for me.”
It is difficult to fault his logic. Particularly in light of Nuri Şahin’s disappointing move to Real Madrid, Götze’s acceptance that a change to his current situation should not be taken lightly. He is at his home club, where he is loved by supporters and colleagues alike, and, perhaps most importantly, looks set to win his second Bundesliga title in two years.
That, after all, has to be considered the most important argument. It is not just that moving away from Dortmund would be a gamble, but it would also mean leaving a club which is quite ostensibly looking to build a successful future. It is not just a signal from Götze himself, but also from the club as a whole, that they can compete on the top level, both in footballing and market terms.
It is a slap in the face for the Premier League, and it is a slap in the face for FC Bayern. After Marco Reus also rejected the latter in favour of Dortmund, there will perhaps be some concern in Munich that their status as Germany’s most attractive club is now seriously under threat.
The jubilation in Dortmund, however, should probably err on the side of caution. 2016 is four years away. Go four years in the other direction, to 2008, and you find Dortmund sitting rather dejectedly in 13th place at the end of the season, just four points above Energie Cottbus. A lot can change in four years, and while a spectacular fall from grace is hardly likely, it is not impossible that BVB will not win the title again before 2016, or even fall out of the top four.
Such a fate is, admittedly, less likely the more players like Götze the club is able to hang on to, but if Şahin’s departure last year told us anything, it is that certain clubs are difficult to resist. If Barcelona or Real Madrid were really to set their hearts on signing the young German midfielder before 2016, Watzke and Dortmund would face a brutal fight to hold on to him.
Götze’s new contract is, for the moment, a testament a maturity beyond his years. It is, in his current situation, absolutely the right decision. But it would be naïve to think that it is an unequivocal pledge of his undying loyalty to Borussia Dortmund. For all his humility, for all his sense, and for all his loyalty to the famous Black and Yellow, Mario Götze is a professional, and a very good one at that. This is not the last we will hear of a potential move away from Dortmund.Tagged in: Arsenal, borussia dortmund, Bundesliga, football, Mario Götze, Premier League
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