22 Midfielder Bayern Munich Germany
2014 has been...
…a year to stand on top of the world, looking down at creation.
I wonder what scoring the goal in the game must feel like? Chris Waddle famously said scoring a goal was better than sex, so what must scoring the winner in a World Cup final top? Winning the lottery? Meeting Batman? A lot of sex, possibly with multiple partners? However it feels only a handful of people will ever get to experience it, and Mario Götze is now among their number.
In his 22 years on the planet Mario has packed more into his career than most manage in double that. He’s burst onto the scene (football cliché 101: players either emerge or burst onto the scene, depending on initial form), become a fully-fledged wunderkind, suffered a horrendous injury (stress fracture to the pubic bone – ouch) and long lay-off, made a controversial and big money move to a hated rival from the club who nurtured him, broken into the national team, played in a European Championship and World Cup, and oh yeah, scored winning goal in the extra-time of a World Cup final having been sent on with the message from his manager to prove “you’re better than Messi”. Not bad going.
This year has been okay, then briefly great, then back to domestic matters in brilliant fashion. He’s started this season in wonderful form, of course buoyed by providing the summer’s definitive moment, but that has masked a first six months that were inconsistent but occasionally wonderful. Even at the World Cup he found himself with relatively few minutes on the pitch (259 if you want to be exact). Despite starting and playing well in both of Germany’s first two games, he was then benched for every match (including the final) and played no part in the historic semi-final against Brazil. This may point to both the huge competition in the German squad as well as assessment of what he as an individual could bring to the team at that moment in time, but it is symptomatic of his career in part; an outstanding talent who just needs a push to real greatness.
In fairness, the World Cup may have been that push as he’s been excellent this season. The goals are flowing and competing for a place in one of the most competitive first elevens both internationally and domestically seems to suit. Once openly courted by both Real Madrid and Barca, he chose Bayern and it would be fair to say it’s taken a while to get form and fitness in line with one another. So far this year the player he most brings to mind is himself, recapturing the sparkle that got him so much attention at Dortmund. Long may it continue.
Since we began the 100 Mario Götze has been ever-present. His marks run; 2011 – A, 2012 – C+ (a lot of that year was spent injured), 2013 – C+ and now a B. Four years and not one drop below a C+. Very, very impressive.
We wondered last year if it was really fair to criticise a young player for not being world class yet, but such is the talent we’re talking about here. We hoped Mario would take the World Cup by the scruff of the neck and become the standout midfielder but he never really got to that level. That may be in his future, certainly if he continues his form this season, and we’ll continue to watch with interest and hope. He suffers sometimes by merely being very good in games when people expect greatness, but again, this is the level of talent he possesses. Consistency is the key, at his best he’s better than nearly anyone else, no one expects that every single week but he needs to find this level in the big games to fulfill his immense potential.
When we put the 100 together there are invariably players that drop off or feel like a gamble worth taking. Mario Götze never felt like it. We were sure when we were watching him as a 18-year old, we’ve been certain throughout his time in the 100, and we’re still positive now. He will be one of the ten best players in the world in the very near future, and he will stay there for a long time. He will have a big international tournament at some point too, maybe not one with a single moment to eclipse his goal against Argentina but five or six games where he shows his class time and time again. We used to watch to assess him for this list, the upside of his passing over the age threshold is we can now do it for fun.
“Despite contrary perception's Götze has had a fantastic start to the season for Bayern in the Bundesliga and Champions League. If he doesn't stand out it's because his one of a galaxy of bright stars in Munich. Assuming his career is not stunted by injuries or loss of motivation, young Mario is a future Ballon d'Or winner.” – Terry Duffelen
"Mario Götze is the first substitute to score a winning goal in a World Cup final." - OptaJoe
B Farewell Mario, you’ve been a part of the 100 since the beginning and now move on to top 50 players in the world lists. B for the year overall, A for that goal in the summer, we’ll miss you.
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