Bayern Munich showed the world (and Barcelona) that they are a force to be reckoned with. A 4-0 drudging of the 'world’s greatest team' sees Munich almost guarantee themselves a spot in the UEFA Champions League final.
With Arjen Robben, Mario Gomez and Thomas Müller all getting on the scoresheet, Munich exposed Barcelona’s midfield tiki-taka using their direct and powerful moving style. So, a good week for Bayern Munich, made even sweeter by the news of the club’s latest acquisition, Borussia Dortmund’s Mario Götze. At only 20 years old, Götze is already a stud player in the German Bundesliga. He has scored 16 goals in 42 appearances, guiding Dortmund to the semi-finals of the Champions League.
His career with Dortmund has seen him earn a spot in the national team, and he hasn’t disappointed for Die Mannschaft. He’s an attractive option for a team like Bayern Munich, who always enjoy employing top German talent. It seems almost a natural fit to pick up a player of Götze’s talent. So, while Munich celebrates their signing and their dominance of Barcelona, there is still one question that needs to be answered. Why sign Mario Götze? Bayern Munich are not for a lack of midfield options. In fact, Munich is one of the few teams on the planet who actually have an overabundance of talent in the midfield.
Between Toni Kroos, Javi Martinez, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Thomas Müller, Arjen Robben, Franck Ribery and Xherdan Shaqiri, Munich possesses some of the best midfield talent in the world. At a steep fee of £37 million, Götze is not a casual purchase, nor is he a player that merits time on the bench. With Javi Martinez and Bastian Schweinsteiger solidifying their positions as central midfielders, there’s no excuse to drop one defensive option for another attacking one. So, Götze’s spot on the field will come at the expense of one of Arjen Robben, Franck Ribery or Thomas Müller. As the trio displayed against FC Barcelona, none of them deserve to lose the spot. Müller, in particular, deserves a starting role, which hasn’t always been guaranteed. While Robben continues to earn equal parts praise and criticism, and Ribery has been hot-and-cold throughout the year, the argument can be made that Götze’s role would be to replace one of the two wingers. Yet, in Shaqiri, Munich already has a ready-made replacement, as his performances this season have proven.
Then there’s a little matter of Toni Kroos. An attacking midfielder by trade, Kroos has already notched nine goals in 37 appearances. He didn’t start for Bayern Munich against their Spanish opponents, showing that Munich already has an abundance of talent in midfield that they cannot fit into the starting XI. Unless Munich is planning a mass exodus of players over the offseason, the purchase of Götze seems a bit like overkill. It is most reminiscent of the signing of Cesc Fabregas, who has not yet made a starting spot his own in Barcelona, even though he would start for almost every single team on the planet. Though Fabregas sees action in almost every single game, he is a starter through and through. The same can be said of Götze, who may see himself finding playing time hard to come by at Bayern Munich, regardless of his skill. This will be even truer should Munich win the Champions League. There is no excuse to change a winning formula, especially one that could potentially replicate Barcelona’s treble by picking up every local and international title they are in contention for. With Pep Guardiola at the helm next season, Munich will certainly look like a different team. Perhaps they will be the “best team in the world,” or perhaps they will remain, as ever, a terribly dangerous and oft-ignored team who deserve to be recognized. In any case, the signing of Götze could herald in the next generation of Bundesliga dominance for Bayern Munich, but unless the Bavarians properly utilize their young superstar, it may just spell the unnecessary death of Borussia Dortmund, instead.
I previously wrote an article about Dortmund’s dismantling, which I had dubbed The Valencia Effect.It’s something that threatens to knock Dortmund out of contention in the Bundesliga. Losing their brightest talent to a bigger club could very well become a big part of Dortmund’s potential decline. With Robert Lewandowski on his way out and Mats Hummels also being linked to Barcelona, it’s hard to imagine that the Bundesliga – which has historically been a league of parity – being anything more than Munich’s stomping grounds. If Dortmund does indeed enter into this period of recession, one has to wonder if Bayern Munich is responsible. This transfer could also bite Bayern Munich on the behind in the coming years; with a reduced level of talent to compete against, could Bayern Munich dull over the following seasons?
Every championship winning team has an opponent of equal footing: Barcelona has Real Madrid; Manchester United has Manchester City; Juventus has A.C. Milan. These teams, plus the strength of other outfits like Chelsea, Inter Milan, Arsenal, and Tottenham, keep title-winning sides on their toes. As they say, iron sharpens iron; with a duller Dortmund outfit, Bayern Munich may not have adequate competition to sharpen itself with, and would themselves be duller for it. Götze is irreplaceable for Borussia Dortmund. The only replacements that would be suitable are either financially unavailable or are too valuable to theirclubs to give up. With almost 40 million euros to spend, Dortmund technically have the funds to replace Götze, but which teams would be willing to give up a playmaker so easily?
Real Madrid’s Mesut Ozil and Chelsea’s Juan Mata could fill in that role, but would either team sell these stars to Dortmund? The chances aren’t likely. Of course, Dortmund could spend big money on a wildcard youngster like Christian Eriksen of Ajax Amsterdam or Malaga’s Isco, but there is no guarantee that they would pan out. Ultimately, the transfer of Mario Götze to Bayern Munich is more curious than exciting. It speaks of an underlying problem in the world of football, the almost unavoidable fate of teams like Dortmund who lose star players to bigger teams. It also seems like a big purchase for a team who already employ an abundance of midfield talent, some of which is going underused. Götze could be the next big name in Bavaria, a superstar that overtakes the city and looks back on this move as a blessing. However, like Fabregas, Götze could also find himself riding the bench unnecessarily, more than happy to come on in the second half but silently waiting for an already-established midfielder to hang up his boots. For a superstar like Mario Götze, playing the waiting game is a real shame.