Sandro Wagner is returning to his hometown of Munich for his second spell with Bayern, with already eight first-team appearances and a goal to his name. - © © gettyimages / Baron
Sandro Wagner is returning to his hometown of Munich for his second spell with Bayern, with already eight first-team appearances and a goal to his name. - © © gettyimages / Baron

Returning home for Christmas: Gomez, Wagner and the Bundesliga's returnees

Perhaps the most eye-catching transfer of the Bundesliga transfer window to date – in large part due to being a complete bolt from the blue – was Mario Gomez's decision to leave Wolfsburg and return to hometown club Stuttgart.

Yet the veteran striker, 32, is not the only player to have returned to a former club in the hope of recapturing past glories. In fact, the five major Bundesliga transfers so far this winter have taken players back to their old stomping grounds. takes a closer look at who else was driving home for Christmas, and what they've been up to in the meantime...

Mario Gomez,Wolfsburg to Stuttgart

Gomez going back to Stuttgart is less a homecoming and more a return of the prodigal son. It is, in his own words upon his arrival, "the club that raised me, and made me the player I am".

The striker's previous achievements VfB – 63 Bundesliga goals in 121 games and a Bundesliga title in 2007 – have earned him messianic status in the city on the banks of the Neckar.

When he left for Bayern Munich in 2009, after eight years at the Mercedes-Benz Arena, Gomez was Germany's most complete striker. He picked up two further Bundesliga titles in the Bavarian capital, as well as the UEFA Champions League in 2012/13, but never won his way into the harder-to-please Munich hearts in the same way he managed as a homegrown star in Stuttgart.

Gomez left Bayern to little fanfare in 2013, embarking on a European tour – apt for a man of German/Spanish extraction. His first port of call was Fiorentina, who eventually loaned him to Besiktas – the striker remains a cult hero in Istanbul after scoring 26 goals in 33 games in 2015/16, helping the Black Eagles to a first Turkish title in seven years.

Now more of a one-dimensional forward, Gomez joined Wolfsburg that summer and proved equally influential, scoring almost half of the club's goals (16 of 34) as the Wolves narrowly avoided the drop. This season has been less productive, bringing only one goal so far, but that will not matter a jot to the VfB fans, who believe that returning home will be the catalyst for Gomez to rediscover his Midas touch in front of goal, in the process firing the club to the promised land of Bundesliga survival.

Watch: Gomez is hoping to get the good times rolling again in Stuttgart

Sandro Wagner,Hoffenheim to Bayern Munich

Born in Munich, Wagner made no secret of his desire to return to his hometown when Bayern's interest in him crystallised. "I'm a bit of a hometown boy," he told 11Freunde earlier this year. "If I'm away from Munich for too long, then I get homesick."

The homesickness must currently be overwhelming, since Wagner has been away for almost a decade. Whereas Gomez enjoyed plenty of success during his first spell at his boyhood club, the same could not be said for Wagner, who made only four Bundesliga appearances for the Bavarian giants in 2007, with one yellow card the sum total of his efforts.

After being allowed to leave in the summer of 2008, there followed an itinerant career, Wagner failing to make the grade at Duisburg, Werder Bremen, Kaiserslautern or Hertha Berlin (the nadir perhaps doing shooting practice alone in the capital), before joining promoted Darmstadt in summer 2015.

Both Wagner and Darmstadt defied all odds that season, the striker scoring a remarkable 14 goals to help the Lilies stay up, a string of performances that persuaded Hoffenheim to swoop for the burly frontman. The 30-year-old's Indian summer continued in Sinsheim, catching the eye of Bayern.

Happy to be home and buoyed by an unshakable self-confidence, Wagner is ready to grab his second chance at the Allianz Arena.

Watch: Check out Wagner's top three Bundesliga goals!

Simon Terodde,Stuttgart to Cologne

Much like Wagner, it was a long, wandering road for Terodde before returning to Cologne, the club he intends to fire to safety.

"I took my first steps in professional football with Cologne [2009-2011], and I know that special feeling of running out at the RheinEnergieStadion," said Terodde upon his unveiling.

Indeed, it was in the Domstadt where Terodde made his Bundesliga debut, back in November 2010, before leaving for Union Berlin the following summer

Three successful seasons in the capital led in 2014 to a move to Bochum, where Terodde ended the 2015/16 season as second-tier top scorer. The relentless goalscoring attracted Stuttgart's attention, the Swabian giants swooping and the striker ending the following campaign again as top scorer, playing a key role in Hannes Wolf's young side bouncing straight back into the Bundesliga.

Although he has struggled in the top flight so far this term, Terodde is already relishing the chance to prove the doubters wrong, all the more so while back at a club close to his heart. As he put it: "It was sort of in the blood. I wouldn't have left Stuttgart for anyone else, but Cologne was a special case."

Watch: Terodde found the net for Stuttgart in a win against Freiburg on Matchday 10

Anthony Ujah,Liaoning to Mainz

Back with Mainz, Ujah is returning to his spiritual home. Although the Nigerian made little impact in two seasons at the club between 2011 and 2013, there was no hiding his excitement at being back when he was recently unveiled at the 05ers.

"I'm absolutely over the moon to be returning to Mainz," Ujah said. "I've only got good memories of my time here and I'm also really looking forward to playing in the Bundesliga again."

It has always been the German top flight where Ujah has thrived. Although he struggled during his first spell at the Opel Arena between 2011 and 2013, successful spells at Cologne and Werder Bremen meant the striker developed a reputation as one of the top flight's most reliable sharpshooters.

Despite a respectable return of 11 goals in the 2015/16 season at the Weserstadion, Ujah headed to China to join Liaoning (after Wagner had turned down the chance to move there), with most assuming his career in Europe was over.

Things panned out quite differently: after Liaoning were recently relegated, Ujah went on the hunt for a new club, and found Mainz only too willing to oblige. With the 05ers needing a goalscorer and the 27-year-old harbouring hopes of making his nation's squad for the FIFA World Cup, it's safe to say Ujah has plenty of reasons to try and better his tally of two Bundesliga goals from his first spell in Mainz.

Josip Brekalo,Stuttgart to Wolfsburg

Where Gomez goes in one direction – from Wolfsburg to Stuttgart – Brekalo goes the other, returning to his parent club. The Croatian, a fine 800-metre runner in his youth, will head back to Lower Saxony a more complete player thanks to a year at the Mercedes-Benz Arena.

Long tipped as one of Croatia's brightest prospects, the Wolves swooped to sign the winger, now 19, in 2016 following impressive showings at the UEFA European Under-19 Championships that summer, before loaning him to Stuttgart to gain first-team experience in January 2017.

That he did, impressing as VfB were promoted back to the Bundesliga, scoring a goal-of-the-season contender in February against Heidenheim to introduce himself to his new fans. A second goal for the club followed as recently as November, Brekalo scoring against Borussia Dortmund in VfB's victory to underline that he will be pushing for a first-team spot at the Volkswagen Arena as soon as he reacquaints himself with his surroundings.

Watch: Click play on the video below to see Brekalo's goal against Dortmund!

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