36 hours before the second UEFA Champions League Semi-Final against Real Madrid, Bayern Munich announced they had completed the signing of Borussia Dortmund midfielder Mario Gӧtze. The transfer valued at €37 million, is the most ever received for a German player, and at 20 years old it is plain to see that Mario Gӧtze will be a star for years to come. Dortmund were able to cope with the distraction and despite suffering a 2-0 defeat at the Santiago Bernabeau, were able to advance to the Champions League final, where they will face Gӧtze’s future team Bayern Munich.
Gӧtze’s transfer to Bayern does not officially go through until the transfer window opens on July 1. For the remainder of the Bundesliga schedule and the Champions League final he will remain a Dortmund player, but the 20 year old attacking midfielder is faced with an impossible position. Considered the primary playmaker in Dortmund’s tactical system, Gӧtze plays one of the most important roles in Jurgen Klopp’s team. Klopp is faced with the dilemma on whether to include Gӧtze in his squad. Failing to include him would deprive Dortmund of a critical influence on their style of play, while Gӧtze’s inclusion would put him in an interesting psychological dilemma.
If Klopp decides to include Gӧtze in his Champions League Final squad, Gӧtze will be faced with the following conundrum: succeed with Dortumnd and doom his soon to be teammates to their second consecutive defeat in the Final. Failure with Dortmund, aside from having the usual psychological strains of losing an iconic match in a football career, Gӧtze also risks the ire of the Dortmund fans that have followed the emerging star since his youth career with the club.
The conventional wisdom and belief is that a player will always try his hardest to win the biggest match of their career, but under the given circumstances Gӧtze does have incentive not to succeed. If Gӧtze were to have a spectacular performance leading his club to their first Champions League title, he would almost certainly face cold shoulders and hostility when he enters the Munich training set up in July. Having been hand chosen by incoming manager Pep Guardiola already holds a certain amount of pressure, coming in as the villain responsible for the Bayern’s Buffalo Bills-like embarrassment would take that pressure to another level.
Upon further review of the transfer, it is beginning to look like a particularly shrewd piece of business from the Bayern Munich front office. Draw into question the commitment of one of your rival’s key players just before the biggest match of his career. Rumors have circulated that they have also attempted to gain the services of Dortmund’s superstar striker Robert Lewandowski, but Dortmund have wisely rejected any rumors regarding the future sale of the striker to Bayern. While doubt remains about Lewandowski's future at the club, Gotze's fate is already set for his July 1 transfer to Bayern.
Aside from the psychological manipulation of Mario Gӧtze, the timing of this deal also makes financial sense for Bayern. Should Gӧtze produce the performances he is capable of in the Champions League Final, his value may have skyrocketed higher than the €37 million agreed upon by the clubs. At the age of 20 entering as Guardiola’s desired player, he has the potential to succeed for the club for the foreseeable future while offering a tactical incentive in the short term. This is a win-win situation for Bayern and this astute front office move should be recognized and praised. Whether it yields the intended short and long term rewards remains to be seen. This is the type of drama and intrigue that makes the UEFA Champions League the greatest competition in sports.