For the last three transfer windows, the name of Mario Gotze has been linked with pretty much every “elite” side in Europe. Arsenal and Manchester United were reportedly two of the biggest suitors of the 19-year-old with interest also coming from Chelsea and rivals FC Bayern Munich.
However, in the build-up to Borussia Dortmund’s tough title run-in, they have been handed a major boost with the Dortmund-supporting winger agreeing an extension to his current contract until the summer of 2016.
The £14m addition of 22-year-old Marco Reus from Borussia Monchengladbach has given the champions some formidable attacking options ahead of next season. The recent speculation has been of Reus signing as a direct replacement for Gotze – despite the fact he already made his intentions to stay perfectly clear – but his contract extension has silenced those keen to attach his name to Arsenal or Manchester United.
Regardless of how long the youngster decides to play his football at Signal Iduna Park, the Borussia Dortmund money-men will be counting the notes already as the new deal puts BVB in a very strong position – if Gotze decides to leave in 2014, like a teammate said earlier in the season.
Speaking to German newspaper BILD, Kevin Grosskreutz stated: "He cannot leave without me because we are always together. Gotze and I will stay until 2014."
Gotze’s fledging professional career took off last year when he became an integral part of Jurgen Klopp’s young, exciting Dortmund side that stormed towards their first league championship in nine years. The attacker made 33 league appearances last season for the Yellow-and-Blacks and scored six goals, with 11 assists to his name.
His overall WhoScored rating was 7.27 – the second highest in the Dortmund squad behind Nuri Sahin – and his overall game was many years in advance of his age. He racked up a 79.8% pass completion from 1101 passes and he won five ‘man of the match’ awards. Even in the five matches he played in 2009/10, Dortmund fans got a glimpse of a special talent who achieved a WhoScored rating of 6.07 and a pass completion ratio of 91.7%.
This season, the winger has been in fine form, with five goals in 13 matches before his injury, and he also racked up five assists in the same number of games. From 481 attempts, Gotze has hit a pass completion ratio of 76.9% and makes 34.4 average passes per game and 2.4 key passes. He is comfortable playing on either side of the attacking trio behind Robert Lewandowski and has even played as a central-midfielder this season.
In central positions, he has scored one goal and created another in his two games there, attaining a WhoScored rating of 7.97. But he his naturally suited to the right-hand side of the 4-2-3-1 and in 14 appearances overall, he has four goals, five assists and a WhoScored rating of 7.31 from that position – overall, his WhoScored rating is 7.62 in the league.
In Dortmund’s 4-2-3-1, it is imperative that the attacking-midfielders are capable of covering both midfield and attacking duties. Gotze offers real composure in front of goal and a high quality of finishing. As a winger, he is comfortable dribbling to either his left or right side and has excellent crossing ability. From this season’s statistics, it is clear to see that dribbling, with 4 per match on average, is a strong element to his game.
But alongside his attacking capabilities, Gotze is one of the better attacking-midfielders in Europe at sticking to his defensive duties. His partnership with right-back Lukas Piszczek has been a huge part of Dortmund’s success in the last two seasons and the consistent Polish full-back certainly is not left isolated by Gotze in defensive situations.
The Bundesliga is becoming known for the preference to 4-2-3-1 but the likes of Hamburg and Gladbach have shown that this system can expose full-backs and cause chaos in defensive positions.
Both sides have opted for more flat 4-4-2 systems with the aim of controlling the centre of the pitch and doubling-up in wider areas. The Dortmund star makes 2.1 tackles per game and average of 1.2 interceptions in his defensive game.
At times this season he has been up-staged by Japanese sensation Shinji Kagawa and, when injured, Polish winger Jakub Blaszczykowski, but his importance to the Dortmund side is certainly under-rated with many claiming they don’t actually need the teenager.
Dortmund supporters were thrilled at the sight of Gotze returning to full training this week after a long injury lay-off. It is hoped that he will be fit for the huge Ruhr-derby on April 14th or even for their top-of-the-table clash with FC Bayern just three days earlier.