For the past three and a half years, VfL Wolfsburg have been going through what can only be described as a ‘striker crisis’. Klaus Allofs, himself a former striker, who took over as sporting director of the club in November 2012, has been eagerly searching for a solution to this problem.
Nicklas Bendtner came and went as did Max Kruse. This summer Borja Mayoral arrived from Real Madrid. In recent days, he’s been joined by Mario Gomez – German international, Champions League winner, multiple German champion and cup winner, reigning champion and top scorer in Turkey. Allofs had this to say about the striker.
On the decision to sign Gomez over Simone Zaza:
At the beginning of the week, everything looked set for Juventus’s Simone Zaza to become the solution to VfL’s striker problem. But in the end, Gomez was signed.
“We had a number of options,” said Allofs. “Simone Zaza made a good impression. It is a shame we couldn’t have taken both – tactically it wouldn’t have made sense. But Zaza would have offered something in the way of a solution.”
When asked ‘Why Gomez?’, Allofs continued: “Both Mario and VfL feel as though they have found what they are looking for. We feel as though Mario is at the pinnacle of his career… He understands what he is doing. He is totally clear of his ideas. We had to choose Mario.”
As well as this, the price difference between the players was important. Gomez cost €7 million whereas “Zaza would have had to be negotiated at a much higher value”.
On Gomez’s aging:
“Mario knows what is what. Not only on the field but also off it. He has experienced highs and lows in his career. His last season in Turkey was outstanding and he has shown how important a player he can be in the national team this summer. This shows that the creme always rises to the top. Now he is desperate to show his quality in the Bundesliga once again.”
What the Gomez transfer signals:
It is no secret that many players have wanted to leave VfL this summer. Some have succeeded, some are yet to go, some will remain. Allofs remarked: “We are in a transitional period – we haven’t achieved the things we had hoped to achieve over the last year. It sends a strong signal when a player like Mario opts to join VfL Wolfsburg – it sends a signal both internally and externally.”
When questioned about Julian Draxler, who has been the most vocal about his desire to leave, Allofs said: “We want to keep Julian but we don’t want to make him unhappy. Either way, we need to strengthen the squad. Julian has already trained with Mario Gomez whilst on international duty.”
The striker has signed with VfL until 2019 ‘no ifs or buts’, according to Allofs. However, he mentioned that both parties has come to an agreement about a reassessment period.
“There is a very clear agreement that we will sit down together in a year and if we are not hitting the sorts of goals we hop to achieve then we will decide whether or not to extend his stay for a second or third year. I think this is to the benefit of everyone involved.”
This would mean that VfL miss out on European competition again, then Gomez could leave after only one year.