Munich - When, on the eve of Borussia Dortmund's UEFA Champions League semi-final first leg encounter with Real Madrid CF, the news broke that Mario Götze would be plying his trade for FC Bayern Munich as of 2013/14, it threatened to overshadow the Yellow-Blacks' massive European showdown.
Scoring more goals
The timing of the revelation became a somewhat controversial sub-story in its own right but, with the dust now settled, both clubs are gearing up for a new season respectively with and without the services of the man described by Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke as a "once-in-a-century player".
As it stands, Götze looks set to miss out on the bulk of FC Bayern's pre-season preparations under new head coach Pep Guardiola due to ongoing problems with a thigh injury picked up early on in the second leg of the meeting with Real. Be that as it may, once fit again the 21-year-old all-round attacking talent is widely expected to assume a pivotal role as Guardiola seeks to cement Bayern's place at the top of the European game for the foreseeable future.
Götze's magical close control and sublime passing are there for all to see when he takes to the pitch, but how does he bear up under the cold light of the statistics? Here, too, all the evidence is that the freshly-minted treble winners have acquired a player who, for all his achievements to date, is still on the up. For starters, the ten-goal tally posted in his final season at Dortmund topped by four his previous Bundesliga best-mark.
More advanced role?
Add to that eight assists and 16 clear-cut scoring opportunities laid on (leaving him third-top of the Bundesliga chart in the latter category, behind new FC Bayern team-mate Franck Ribéry and 1899 Hoffenheim's Kevin Volland), and a clear picture emerges of a player who puts the greater good of the team ahead of personal glory. In all, he has directly set up 34 goals in 83 top-flight outings to date.
The 22-time Germany international added a further string to his bow at Borussia Mönchengladbach on Matchday 23 last term, stepping up to take, and score, his first penalty in a senior competitive fixture. Interestingly, Götze was deployed as Dortmund's lone forward in that encounter, rather than in his usual role either down the right or in an advanced central midfield position.
Doing the right thing
That exceptional ability to take on and beat multiple opponents has the invariable knock-on effect of earning his team free-kicks aplenty - he was fouled 63 times in all last season. In addition, the accuracy of his passing is not in dispute and here, too, Götze's "stray-ball quotient" was down to just over 14 percent in 2012/13, reducing his overall Bundesliga average to less than 18 percent - not bad at all for a high-risk creative attacker.
Perhaps the most telling statistic, however, is one that is not conventionally quantified, but was expressed thus by Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc: "99 times out of a hundred he makes the right decision and that’s what it’s all about. It’s a precious commodity in football and one he was born with." The inevitable question for FC Bayern and their fans on the back of their greatest-ever season is where does it go from here? With Götze now on board as well, there is every chance the answer could turn out to be onwards and upwards.