It is more than 20 years since VfB Stuttgart last had a German World Cup winner on their books, in the form of defensive legend Guido Buchwald.
Now, they have another: Kevin Großkreutz is back in the Bundesliga after a brief, ill-fated sojourn in Istanbul with Galatasaray SK – snapped up by the Swabians to help them pull clear of the table's nether regions, preferably sooner rather than later.
"I can't wait to get stuck into this new challenge," the 27-year-old utility player said. "The Bundesliga's up there alongside the Premier League as the strongest in the world. I'm very excited at the prospect of tackling our common goals with Stuttgart."
Excited, as well, at the prospect of simply playing football again: an administrative oversight led to Großkreutz being suspended from competitive action for the rest of the year following his late summer switch from Borussia Dortmund to Galatasaray. Now, alongside on-loan Ukrainian goalgetter Artem Kravets, he hopes to bring fresh impetus to VfB's latest battle to avoid the drop.
Buchwald, for one, believes the versatile newcomer can become a key player for Stuttgart. “He's got a winner's mentality and he'll run till he drops,” said the 1990 world champion: “I'm confident Kevin will deliver the goods.” Karl-Heinz Förster, another club icon, agrees, saying, “I think it could work. If he can reproduce his performance level for Dortmund under Jürgen Klopp, he's certainly going to be able to help VfB.”
Großkreutz was an integral member of the BVB side who won the league in 2011 and topped that with a domestic double the following year. After a series of injuries and Klopp's departure, to be succeeded by Thomas Tuchel, the hometown favourite found himself on the margins of the first team. Now he, just like his new club, is out to reaffirm his Bundesliga class.
The early impressions from Stuttgart's winter training camp in Belek, Turkey, left head coach Jürgen Kramny upbeat about the potential impact of his two new signings. "They've both settled into the team very well already. They're definitely going to be able to make a contribution over the remainder of the season," said Kramny who, more generally, is "convinced our squad have the quality to achieve our season targets." The job gets underway on Saturday, at 1. FC Köln.