Munich - In his first official press conference as a player of treble-winners FC Bayern Munich, Mario Götze was clear in his mind that he had made the right decision to leave Borussia Dortmund and return to Bavaria. "A great challenge" was how he put representing Bayern, a view echoed by fellow new recruit Jan Kirchhoff.
"I was born in Bavaria and my grandparents live in Allgäu [in southern Germany]," said 21-year-old Götze to the assembled journalists at Bayern's Säbener Straße training ground. "I've always enjoyed coming back here."
His decision to join the record Bundesliga title-holders reflected not just an emotional connection to Bavaria but also the opportunity to improve himself as a player. “One reason was that I wanted to develop myself and I wanted to do that at Bayern,” revealed the Germany international. "In a footballing sense, this is the right decision for me.”
Matthias Sammer, Bayern’s sporting director, appeared just as excited, perhaps even humbled, at the prospect of working with a player many in Germany have described as ‘the talent of the century’. “This is a good day for FC Bayern. Mario is one of the outstanding players in the world and it’s fantastic for me to be able to work with him,” said the UEFA Euro 1996 winner.
When news broke in April that Götze had agreed to leave BVB and join FCB, the footballing world was largely shocked. Labelled by Franz Beckenbauer as ‘the German Lionel Messi’, Götze had become synonymous with the dynamic, attractive brand of football that had garnered Dortmund so many admirers in Europe last season. Injury spared him an appearance in the UEFA Champions League final against his future employers, meaning his last game for Dortmund was an ultimately inconsequential Bundesliga run-out against 1. FSV Mainz on Matchday 30.
It seemed a somewhat disappointing way for such an exciting talent to finish his career at the club that had given him his breakthrough. In Munich on Tuesday, however, the 22-time German international made it absolutely clear that the book is now closed on his Dortmund career. “I’m now at the best club in the world and I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
A further incentive for Götze in joining Bayern Munich was the opportunity to work with newly-installed head coach Pep Guardiola. The two of them have spoken briefly, although Götze insisted that “no tactical details were discussed. It was just a conversation for him to see how my recovery is coming along. I've watched the team’s training sessions under Guardiola though and I’ve seen how much emphasis he places on ball work and technical things.”
His priority now is to be fit as quickly as possible in order to show that being Bayern's biggest signing so far this summer isn’t a burden to him but something to welcome. “I don’t feel any pressure because of it. If anything I feel pride. Not many people get to realise their dream at 21 years of age.”
FCB's other new recruit, Jan Kirchhoff, was also in attendance for his first media duty at his new club, and he was equally enamoured by the challenge of representing the European champions. The 22-year-old, who arrived from Mainz on a free transfer, revealed that “nothing surprised me when I arrived here. I already knew that the team had fantastic players in every position”.
With Götze injured, Kirchhoff will be the only new signing that takes part in the club’s training camp in Trentino, and the Germany Under-21 international is hugely excited ahead of the trip to Italy. “It’s a lot of fun to train with this team," Kirchhoff said. Both he and Götze are still finding their feet in Munich, but neither will presumably take too long to adapt to the Bayern way of doing things.