Germany international Mario Gotze has been hailed by Bayern Munich team-mates and officials after enjoying a scoring debut in a practice match against Hungarian side Gyor.
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He bagged a brace in just 30 minutes, with the display likely to cast doubt over the future role of Mario Mandzukic, who may be ousted in favour of Gotze playing as Pep Guardiola’s false nine.
Gotze had not played a match for 103 days, since suffering a muscle injury in Borussia Dortmund’s Champions League semi-final clash against Real Madrid.
"My debut could have been worse," Gotze said after the game, before adding that he will still need a couple of weeks to feel fully integrated into the first-team.
Bayern CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge was impressed with what he saw of the club’s €37 million signing, saying: “You can tell we have added a world-class player, a wonderful option, an unbelievable reinforcement. I am looking forward to when, in the near future, he will playing in a league game.”
Bayern president Uli Hoeness echoed the sentiment, telling Bild: “It was just great to see how Mario plays football. When players like Mario and Franck [Ribery] are subbed in, the game instantly changes. I can’t wait for more. That was fun."
Gotze also earned a glowing assessment from team-mate Franck Ribery, who featured in the game in Hungary too.
"Playing alongside Mario was fun," Ribery said. "You are able to realise how much we had missed him. We will have a lot of fun together."
Mandzukic is currently Bayern's first-choice forward and has scored in his past two games, but there is a growing feeling that Gotze could be utilised as a false nine.
The former Dortmund star could alternatively be played in central midfield, a move that would put the pressure on his Germany team-mate Thomas Muller.