Mario Gomez may have found the right footballing formula at Fiorentina to re-energise his career, writes Ross Dunbar.
Mario Gomez has brought an end to a goal-hungry Bundesliga career - spanning nine years with VfB Stuttgart and FC Bayern - by securing a ‘desired’ switch to Fiorentina this week.
Costing, in total, around €20m with a up-front fee of €15m from La Viola, Gomez is one of a kind in modern football - suffering the tribulations of his public perception in the German media. You would be forgiven for believing Gomez is everyone’s cup of tea in German football, yet, the prolific striker has been isolated by the rapidly-evolving playing style in the Bundesliga and international scene.
With 138 goals in 236 League games, Gomez is the 16th highest scorer in Bundesliga history and his 113 strikes in the red of FC Bayern levels him with Claudio Pizarro in the club’s all-time scoring charts. For the German national team, the former Stuttgart man has struck 25 goals in 58 games, averaging one every other game.
Far from a slight on his qualities, Gomez has been second-choice striker for Bayern in 2012-13 – a unique career situation for the 27-year-old frontman – with Croatian forward Mario Mandzukic having led the line and altered the dynamics of the side. Coach Jupp Heynckes sacrificed the guaranteed goals of Gomez for the overall contribution of Mandzukic.
Until Mario Gotze’s move to Munich, Gomez was the most expensive German footballer of all-time, costing €30m with a League championship under his wing during his time with the Swabians. The centre-forward was crucial in Bayern’s 2011-12 run to the UEFA Champions League Final and he became, arguably, the most valuable player in the side.
His 41 goals in 52 games that season, including 13 in 14 Champions League matches, took the club within inches of their third European Cup at the Allianz Arena. Gomez really couldn’t have helped more in their push for domestic and European success – a feat which would arrive only 12 months later.
The change to Mandzukic in the central-attacking role, though, left Gomez on the bench for the majority of the season, feeding off substitute opportunities and inconsistent selections in the Bundesliga, which has ultimately spelled the end of his time in Germany. As the national team was dumped out of Euro 2012, opening a wide-debate on the best front-line option in the DFB-elf, the role of Gomez was questioned by many, in the changing face of the side.
“I see things differently,” he told Stuttgarter Zeitung recently. “It is not true that Barcelona played without a centre-forward. Lionel Messi is a total centre-forward. Although, he does not have my stature but he is certainly not a false nine. He is a real No 9 and also still a playmaker.
“Messi scores goals without end. If someone shoots 60 or 70 goals a year, he is a killer. I think every team needs a killer, regardless of whether it is large or small, heavy or light.”
Still, Gomez has yet to be fully appreciated and his ilk looks to be dying out of the modern game. Enigmatic, it may seem, but for Fiorentina - a youthful, offensive-thinking side, the 27-year-old German might be the cherished final piece in the jigsaw.