Wolfsburg preserved their 10-year stay in the Bundesliga last season only by virtue of a promotion/relegation play-off win over Eintracht Braunschweig. But having reinforced their squad in the summer, imminent Wolves captain Mario Gomez is confident ahead of the 2017/18 campaign.
“I feel very good here and believe the club can be successful,” said the 32-year-old, who plundered a team-high 16 goals despite the club finishing in 16th. “This summer break was perhaps the most important one of my career so far, though. I’d never previously finished below fourth or fifth. This was a new experience and I needed a week’s holiday!”
Watch: Gomez's season in 60 seconds!
While Gomez was recovering, the club treated itself to some retail therapy over the summer. USA centre-back John Anthony Brooks became the most expensive American in soccer in signing from Hertha Berlin. He was joined in the Volkswagen Arena arrivals lounge by Arsenal youth product Kaylen Hinds and Belgium Under-21 star Landry Dimata among others who have combined to give the Wolves one of the youngest average squads in the division ahead of the new campaign.
“I also had a good feeling about our squad last season, but I’m confident we now have a good group,” continued Gomez. “I just think it’s great that I can keep up with the boys (laughs)! They’re already incredibly good for their age, and if they stay focussed they’ll have great careers. Wolfsburg can be positive about the future.”
A veteran of over 250 Bundesliga games, Gomez is expected to lead his young charges by default, whilst his appointment as full-time club captain – to succeed the Monaco-bound Diego Benaglio – is likely to be made official in the coming days.
“I don’t think too much about it,” he says. “I have a great relationship with the coach [Andries Jonker], the club and the players. I’ve always said what I think. Everyone who has something to say is allowed to speak up. You can see which players on the pitch are ready to take the lead.”
Due to a clause in his contract, Gomez could have left with Wolfsburg failing to qualify for European football last term, but he is convinced he can thrive at both club and international level from right where he is.
“I was completely delighted [with Germany’s Confederations Cup win],” said Gomez, who despite not being included in the squad in Russia this summer expects to be on the plane for the World Cup next year. “Six Champions League or Europa League games do not make me a better player.”
“If we have a season where we can have a lot of fun and avoid the bad moments of last year, then we can be happy.”