Mario Gotze at Liverpool could trump Luis Suarez for excitement
If rumours are to be believed, Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp will be doing most of his shopping in Germany this summer. With Schalke's Joel Matip arriving on a free transfer during the next window, Klopp has also been linked with a host of other players from the Bundesliga, with his former Borussia Dortmund protege, Mario Gotze, said to be top of his wanted list.
The man who scored the winning goal as Germany won the 2014 World Cup final has grown increasingly unsettled at Bayern Munich and according to numerous reports this week, has his heart set on a reunion with ex-Dortmund boss Klopp at Anfield.
Gotze is a versatile player who can fill a variety of attacking roles, but Liverpool already have a number of those multi-functional players and appear to have more pressing needs than adding another attacking midfielder.
That said, you can never have too many match-winners and it's not every day the opportunity arises to add a player of such quality, particularly one who is so familiar and comfortable with the manager's style of play.
Gotze is better than anyone Liverpool currently have and would therefore be quite the coup if Klopp could lure him to Merseyside, especially if the mooted fee of around £20 million is anywhere near accurate. To add some perspective to that, Liverpool paid that sum for Stewart Downing and Lazar Markovic. Supporters will understandably be wondering just where the German would fit into the team and whose place he would take if he did indeed join, but the nature of modern football means that is not the black and white issue it once was.
In the past, formations were generally rigid and most teams lined up the same way, usually in a basic 4-4-2. When a player signed it was almost always with a specific role in mind and it was usually fairly obvious what that role was and who was about to find themselves out of the team, and in many cases out of the club altogether. If you were in the team and the club paid big money for someone in your position, it usually meant the writing was on the wall.
The game has changed, though. Formations are often not set in stone (Klopp has used four or five different systems already), players are rotated and attacking players especially are more versatile than ever before. As a result of that, there isn't a specific player threatened Gotze's possible arrival.
Many of Liverpool's current attacking players cannot be pigeonholed into one position. How would you describe Philippe Coutinho, for example? He has played on the left, on the right, through the middle and also as an orthodox central midfielder at times. He mostly plays on the left but you'd certainly not peg him as left winger. The only way to describe him would be as an attacking midfielder. Adam Lallana and Roberto Firmino are similarly versatile, as is Gotze.
So if Klopp does manage to bring the 23-year-old to Anfield, it may not specifically be with one position in mind. In fact, it almost certainly won't be. The positional flexibility Gotze would provide is a big part of the attraction, as is his ability to play to such a high standard in all of those roles. Gotze would be Liverpool's best option in several different positions and would provide some much needed star quality.
It has often been said this year that for the first time in decades this current Liverpool squad has no genuine world class star. Adding Gotze would instantly change that.
He would give Klopp another high class attacking option to play behind whoever the centre forward is -- and that is perhaps the biggest question facing Klopp this summer -- and could fill any of the three support roles in Klopp's favoured 4-2-3-1.
So it's not a case of "who makes way?" as there are more than enough games to keep everybody involved, and obviously form and fitness play a part too. It's too simplistic to say if Liverpool were to sign Gotze, then Lallana is in trouble for example. It might mean the England man plays fewer games but he'd still have a part to play.
Too often over recent years Liverpool have gone backwards, either through buying players who couldn't even make the team or, worse still, putting players in who were no better than those they had replaced.
Should they pull it off, the signing of Gotze would not only buck that trend, it would be Liverpool's most exciting since Luis Suarez -- and perhaps even longer.