There is little doubt as to the biggest-name arrival at VfL Wolfsburg ahead of the 2016/17 campaign. In Mario Gomez, the Wolves have snapped up one of the most prolific Bundesliga sharpshooters of recent years. The 31-year-old forward has returned to the German game after three years abroad, with AC Fiorentina in Serie A and, last season, on loan at Besiktas JK in Turkey.
Following the high-profile departures of Naldo to FC Schalke 04, André Schürrle to Borussia Dortmund and Max Kruse to Werder Bremen, Wolfsburg thus managed to pull off a coup summer signing of their own. A revitalised Gomez made an impressive national team comeback at Euro 2016 in France, where he missed out on the eventual semi-final loss to the hosts due to injury.
"We were already inquiring about Mario Gomez over the winter break, so we're all the happier it's worked out now," Wolfsburg sporting director Klaus Allofs said. "Mario's an international-class striker, who'll add quality and vast experience to our team. He's the kind of ambitious player who'll fit right in here."
Watch: Mario Gomez is excited to be part of the Wolfsburg project:
For coach Dieter Hecking, the new man is nothing less than "the best German forward" currently playing: "His CV and scoring stats speak for themselves and on top of that, he's also an onfield leader." Gomez himself stated, "The talks with Klaus Allofs and Dieter Hecking went really well. I'm delighted to have been given this opportunity to return to the Bundesliga and now I want to help Wolfsburg get back into Europe again."
At Besiktas, Gomez finished the season as Turkish champion and 26-goal Süper Lig top scorer. His departure from "a club and country I've grown very fond of" was, he explained, due solely to the recent political unrest there. The Riedlingen native's year in Istanbul certainly served to reboot his career after two injury-marred seasons at Fiorentina.
Watch: Mario Gomez's top five Bundesliga goals:
He had joined the Italian outfit in 2013 after a decade of diligent service for VfB Stuttgart and FC Bayern München. 138 goals in 236 Bundesliga outings makes for impressive reading, with the 28 he bagged at Bayern in 2010/11 earning him the individual top scorer's cannon. For Germany, his goal-grabbing rate is hardly less impressive: 29 in 68 appearances to date. Now firmly back in the scoring groove, Gomez aims to keep firing them in on all fronts over the course of this season and beyond.