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Can Mario Gotze revive his career at Borussia Dortmund

Saturday 2nd September 2017
When Mario Gotze scored the winning goal for Germany in the 2014 World Cup final against Argentina, a thriving football career appeared to await the Bayern Munich 22-year-old. That promise has not really been fulfilled as he succumbed to a debilitating medical ailment. Yet there are now signs that Gotze may be emerging from those dark days as he begins a new season at Borussia Dortmund.

Gotze began playing professional football with Dortmund in 2009. After scoring 10 league goals during the 2013-14 Bundesliga campaign, he then moved to Bayern Munich. He repeated that goal feat twelve months later and was virtually an ever present during the following season.

Thereafter, Gotze failed to build upon that early potential with critics accusing him of a lack of fitness. Performances on the pitch began to wane significantly. After starting just eleven games of the 2015-16 league campaign for Bayern, he was sold back to Dortmund at a much cheaper transfer fee. There was growing evidence that he was just a shadow of his former self on the pitch.

Yet earlier this year, Gotze was diagnosed with the rare metabolic illness Myopathy which can cause fatigue and weight gain among other symptoms. The condition sidelined him for the rest of the season and offered a significant reason for his dramatic loss of form. The German international has since undergone successful treatment for the problem. There is now real hope that some of his early career form can be regained as he returned to the Dortmund training ground for pre-season.

There are already encouraging signs. Gotze has started both Bundesliga matches this season. Although he was substituted after an hour on both occasions, there were glimpses of the dynamism of his former days at Signal-Iduna Park. Whether the German World Cup winner can remain a regular first team player at Dortmund is another matter.

Although Ousmane Dembele has departed the club, there have been several notable incoming transfers since the appointment of former Ajax manager Peter Bosz as head coach. Former Freiburg forward Maximilian Philipp and Ukraine's Andriy Yarmolenko have arrived with German under-21 international midfielder Mahmoud Dahoud moving from Borussia Monchengladbach.

Early season results suggest that Borussia Dortmund will continue to be a major force in German football this term. They claimed a 4-0 DFB Cup win prior to securing victory in both opening Bundesliga fixtures without conceding a goal. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has netted in all three contests while 18-year-old American attacking midfielder Christian Pulisic appears to be building on the promise of last term. He scored the opener in a 3-0 victory at Wolfsburg.

It is now clear that there will be competition for places within the Dortmund attacking formation this season. Yet Mario Gotze can clear further hurdles in his rehabilitation by not only claiming a regular berth in the first team but by completing a full 90 minutes of action.

Although there may still be some setbacks for Gotze, a recall to the German national squad will be his next step. That possibility is likely to be a more gradual process as he just enjoys the freedom of resuming his football career.
John Welsh
I am a freelance sports writer specialising in football covering Premier League, EFL and English non-leagues plus top leagues in France, Germany and Italy. I have written for Inside Futbol, Football Weekends plus football previews for Hong Kong Jockey Club, and I’m also the author of book First Touch, a novel covering the exploitation of young African footballers and their experiences in Europe.

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