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Four years on from winning the World Cup for Germany, Mario Götze’s career hasn’t progressed as expected.
An unsuccessful, injury-plagued stint at Bayern Munich before a metabolic illness in 2017 has seen the 26-year-old look away from German shores for his future.
In a recent documentary, ‘Being Mario Götze’, an admission that he’s still in touch with Jürgen Klopp sparked Liverpool transfer rumours, while West Ham United, Arsenal, and Everton are all reported to be monitoring the situation as well.
First, let’s look at Götze.
Having recovered from the metabolic illness, Götze was able to play around twice as much in 2017/18 as he had the previous season. When he was on the pitch, he had a well-rounded game, contributing in almost every department.
Involved in build-up play, contributing to Dortmund’s shot numbers with a total shot contribution of 3.34 shots per 90 minutes, and an important defensive cog making 2.79 tackles per 90 – Götze looks incredibly adaptable.
No wonder so many clubs are after him.
Liverpool fans will be glad to see those defensive numbers considering Klopp's pressing system, in which every player is required to fulfil a fairly substantial defensive workload.
Götze’s versatility would also fit well into Liverpool’s system, where their midfielders carry out a range of duties.
As seen above, his persona radar has considerable overlap with those of Georginio Wijnaldum and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and Götze could likely be deployed as a replacement for either.
And then, of course, there’s the link to Klopp.
“He taught me everything about professional football,” he told DAZN. “At that time, I was just 17 and coming up from the youth team. He introduced me to everything. He let me play.”
West Ham’s style of play in 2017/18 wasn’t quite what Götze is used to.
However, with Manuel Pellegrini taking over, a more possession-orientated approach to football is likely to show itself than was present under David Moyes.
Götze’s game profiles are similar to West Ham playmaker Manuel Lanzini, and the scarcity of creative talents for the Hammers beyond the injury-prone Argentine explain their reported interest.
Lanzini, though a great player, only posted 1.09 key passes per 90 from open play, and West Ham’s leader in this category was surprisingly Javier Hernández on 1.22.
Chicharito was the only Hammer to make the Premier League top 50 for this stat and only placed 40th. For Dortmund, Götze offered up 1.62, the 11th highest rate out of Bundesliga attackers.
The Gunners will also have a new manager – Unai Emery – in charge next season, although Arsène Wenger's successor's reign will involve less of a shift in style than at West Ham.
One of Götze’s great skills is linking up play through his ability to find space in holes around the opposition midfield. You could replace the 26-year-old’s name with that of a fellow German who’s already at Arsenal.
His expected goals assisted numbers were remarkably similar to Mesut Özil’s last season, Özil providing 0.31 per 90 minutes while Götze provided 0.29.
Given that Özil made more shot assists than the Arsenal transfer target (3.15 vs 2.06 per 90), this means that the chances that Götze did create were of a higher value. On average, the chances Götze created were worth 0.14 expected goals while Özil’s were worth 0.10.
How Everton shape up next season will be interesting, having finally hired Marco Silva after their interest in him led to his departure from Watford.
Both Silva's Watford and Everton under Sam Allardyce favoured long balls, which makes Götze an unusual Everton transfer target.
Still, Götze is just the kind of player who can drive forwards and give Everton some of the pace and attacking impetus which they lacked for so much of 2017/18.
Götze’s game is well-rounded and his return to regular playing time in 2017/18 reminded people why he was once called a ‘once in a century talent'.
The positional skill and eye for a pass makes him a creative force, but his ability to drive forward on the ball and his defensive work-rate make him suited to more traditional styles of play as well.
The German is probably one of the few players who could adapt themselves to play at an elite level for each of these four very different sides and that alone says an incredible amount about the talent that Götze has.