Vidal Bayern Bound As He Joins Guardiola’s Champions League Chase

Bayern Bound - Arturo Vidal (Image from PA)Losing a World Cup winning midfielder just a month before the new season begins could have the potential to derail a clubs preparations and result in a sluggish start to the new campaign as they frantically try to adjust. However this won’t be the case for German champions Bayern Munich who let German icon and recent World Cup winner Bastian Schweinsteiger leave for Manchester United last week. It is business as usual for Pep Guardiola’s side who are already filling the void left by Schweinsteiger by purchasing Juventus and Chile star Arturo Vidal. A fee of €40m has been agreed between the clubs for the tireless midfielder who will now travel to Germany for a medical and to finalize terms. It will be a welcomed return to German football for Vidal who left Bayer Leverkausen in 2011 to join The Old Lady in Turin.

A young Vidal playing for Bayer Leverkausen  (Image from Getty)

A young Vidal playing for Bayer Leverkausen
(Image from Getty)

Vidal has been a huge success in Italy, helping Juventus lift four consecutive Scudetto’s and reach the Champions League final last year. But that defeat to Barcelona now sees a break up of the existing squad with several key players either on their way out or having already departed. Carlos Tevez has returned to Argentina with Boca whilst creative maestro Andrea Pirlo departed for the MLS. Speculation has been constant around the futures of midfielder Paul Pogba, striker Fernando Llorente and Vidal with the Chilean now set to be next out of the door. Juventus have strengthen already in several positions as Massimiliano Allegri shuffles his pack but the loss of Vidal will hit them hard regardless. Alongside two of either Pogba, Pirlo and Marchisio, Vidal has been the driving force in the Juventus midfield for the past few years. Comfortable as a defensive midfielder or in a more central position, Vidal’s no nonsense approach to the game bears resemblance to former Italian star Rino Gattuso who acted like a bulldog in the heart of AC Milan’s midfield a few years earlier under Allegri. However unlike Gattuso who was more comfortable sitting back, protecting the back line whilst others created in front of him, Vidal is more of a box to box player creating as many opportunities for his strikers as he does preventing them at the other end. He has benefited hugely from playing alongside the highly experienced Pirlo who has shown Vidal how to read the game better, involved his teammates more and pinpoint attacking opportunities before they happen. This tutelage has made Vidal a better all round player and is now regarded as one of the best midfielders in the world.

Vidal is in the same mould as Gattuso but slightly more attack minded  (Image from AFP)

Vidal is in the same mould as Gattuso but slightly more attack minded
(Image from AFP)

The chase for his signature has been going on for months now with Arsenal and Manchester United making several enquiries only to be told by the polite Vidal that he wasn’t ready. The Chilean wanted to win the Champions League with Juventus and the Copa with Chile this summer before thinking about a move. He may have failed at the first objective but was instrumental as hosts Chile beat Argentina in the final to claim their first ever Copa title. Bayern boss Pep Guardiola has been a fan of Vidal for some time now with suggestions that he attempted to bring him to Barcelona before the Chilean moved to Juventus. But the Spaniard would not lose out this time and has swooped under the radar of all other clubs to sign the player. Along with fellow new arrival Douglas Costa, signed from Shakhtar Donetsk for €30m at the start of the month, Vidal will be part of a new look Bayern midfield as Guardiola looks to build on their domestic dominance in the Bundesliga success with similar success in Europe, namely the Champions League. Vidal will likely operate as part of a new look midfield trio with Costa and the never aging Xavi Alonso who Guardiola will look to as another Prilo like figure for Vidal.

One player who may not be part of that new look team is Mario Gotze. The forward, who scored Germany’s World Cup winning goal after coming off the bench is set for talks with Juventus about a move after falling out of favour with Guardiola. The former Borussia Dortmund star would move as a separate deal but the revenue generated from his sale would help to cover the outlay for Vidal. Both players offer something different and are not like for like replacements for each other so its hard to judge which side is getting the better end of this deal. For Gotze, it’s a chance to resurrect his career which has somewhat stalled since that dramatic night in Rio. For Vidal its a chance to show that he is one of the worlds best midfielders and that with Guardiola’s help he can finally lift the trophy he has been hoping for – the Champions League.

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Argentina Gets World Cup Revenge With A Little Help From An Angel

 

Less than two months after Germany snatched the World Cup away from Argentina in extra time, the two sides met again in a friendly in Dusseldorf last night with the result somewhat of a surprise. This time it was Argentina who took the plaudits with a stunning 4-2 win that saw Manchester United’s Angel Di Maria take centre stage. The electric winger was on fire in the North Rhine-Westphalia capital, setting up three goals and scoring a sublime fourth as Argentina raced into a four goal lead within the first fifty minutes of the match. Germany did manage to reply twice, first through Chelsea’s Andre Schurrle and then through Bayern’s Mario Gotze, who scored the extra time winner in the final some 52 days prior. But it was too little too late as Argentina dominated the world champions and got the revenge that they were looking for.

Germany won the World Cup by beating Argentina 1-0 (Image from Getty)

Germany won the World Cup by beating Argentina 1-0
(Image from Getty)

Critics will point to the fact that Germany made dramatic changes from the side that took the field in Rio and that statement would be true, with the likes of Muller, Ozil and Hummels consigned to the bench whilst players like Mario Gomez, Marco Reus and Julian Draxler were given a run out. But in truth Argentina were the better side and more importantly the more clinical side. Both teams had 7 shots on target with Argentina converting four of them to Germany’s two. Upfront the returning Mario Gomez, who missed the World Cup due to injury, looked ineffective in comparison to his young predecessor Thomas Muller who was a star at the World Cup. Gomez failed to convert a series of chances and was booed by the German fans as half time approached. He would start the second half but would only play 12 minutes before being hauled off for Gotze to a round of sarcastic applause from the home fans. Support for Gomez and Gotze came in the form of offensive trio Schurrle, Draxler and Reus but they too failed to break down a tough and organized Argentinian back line. In comparison the front three of Argentina – Tottenham’s Erik Lamela, Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero and United’s Di Maria were exceptional, often switching positions and causing severe headaches to a new look German back four. The addition of Lamela to the Argentina squad after nearly a year away showcases how far the player has come in such a short space in time. Noted for his brilliance and trickery on the ball, Lamela had fallen out of the national side after his switch to Tottenham had not gone quite to plan. Lamela struggled with form and many believed he was a dud headed for the exit door but the arrival of new Spurs manager and fellow countryman Mauricio Pochettino has seen a revival in the players’ fortunes and this season he has been a constant thorn in the oppositions side. Sergio Aguero on the other hand did make it into the World Cup squad but due to an early injury in training, he was restricted to brief appearances from the bench and was unable to have the impact that many expected he would. Now well on his way back to full fitness, Aguero is showing Argentina and the rest of the world what the missed in Brazil and how good a striker he actually is.

Di Maria set up three goals and scored the fourth (Image from PA)

Di Maria set up three goals and scored the fourth
(Image from PA)

But it was the performance of Di Maria in last night’s game that has everyone talking. The player who missed the World Cup final because of an injury sustained in the semi final was unmarkable and controlled the game completely up until he was substituted in the 86th minute. It was his vision that created the first goal of the game for Aguero, after Di Maria picked up the ball just outside the 18 yard and curled the ball between four German players with the outside of his left foot right into the path of Aguero who tapped the ball home from 6 yards. Twenty minutes later he was at it again, this time setting up Lamela for Argentina’s second goal. Collecting a pass from Zabaleta just behind Matthias Ginter, Di Maria controlled the ball on the byline, looked up and planted a perfect cross onto Lamela’s boot for the Spurs man to volley home. Argentina’s third came in the second half and again the assist was from Di Maria, this time with a beautiful curling free kick that was headed home by defender Federico Fernandez. But the pièce de résistance came three minutes later with Di Maria finally putting himself on the score sheet. The move started at the half way line with Di Maria, Aguero and Zabaleta playing a neat interchange of passes before Manchester City defender Zabaleta played a long ball in behind the German defence for Di Maria to chase. Beating Benedikt Howedes for pace, Di Maria collected the pass, composed himself and at chipped the ball past an oncoming Roman Weidenfeller for Argentina’s fourth.

Di Maria celebrates after scoring Argentina's fourth goal (Image from AFP)

Di Maria celebrates after scoring Argentina’s fourth goal
(Image from AFP)

It was a truly fantastic performance from the former Real Madrid player and highlighted his flexibility and appetite as he covered almost every blade of grass on the pitch. His manager at United, Louis Van Gaal would do well to have noticed that Di Maria was the most effective when he was given a free role and license to roam. With Falcao now in the side and a support cast of Mata, Rooney and Van Persie, Di Maria should flourish given the freedom and opportunity as United attempt to kick start their stuttering season. If he can, United will be a totally different proposition than the one that has failed to spark so far this season.

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Dortmund Kickstarts Revolution with Two New Signings

Klopp is spearheading a new revolution at Dortmund (Image from Getty)This summer’s departure of Polish striker Robert Lewandowski marks a change for the better for Borussia Dortmund. The prolific striker is set to join arch rivals and reigning Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich on a free transfer. It’s the second time in recent history that Borussia Dortmund has been raided by Bayern Munich for one of its star players. Two seasons ago, the German champions came knocking and subsequently took Mario Gotze back to Bavaria with them for a fee of €37 million. Having played the role of principle striker for Dortmund for the last four years, Lewandowski leaving may not be a bad thing. Manager Jürgen Klopp is keen to evolve his team following the disappointment of losing the title last year to Bayern and the still lingering pain of Champions League defeat to the same club the year before.

Lewandowski is set to join Bayern Munich this summer  (Image from PA)

Lewandowski is set to join Bayern Munich this summer
(Image from PA)

Lewandowski’s departure should leave a gaping hole up front for Dortmund but Klopp has acted quickly to plug the gap so to speak with two impressive new signings that allow him to try new formations and evolve the club for its next set of challenges. First to arrive was Hertha Berlin striker Adrian Ramos for a fee of €9 million. The Colombian ace has been in fine form this past season in the Bundesliga scoring 16 times and landing a spot in the Colombia team for the World Cup. The muscular 28 year old will act as a target man, similar to Lewandowski but will also offer good options on the ground and in the air for Dortmund’s attacks. His arrival was confirmed in April with the player signing a pre contract that starts 1st July. Now Klopp’s has added a second striker with the signing of Italian international forward Ciro Immobile. The former Torino striker is currently with the Italian national team as they prepare for the world cup but will official join Dortmund on July 1st for a fee in the region of €19 million.

First arrival - Adrian Ramos  (Image from Getty)

First arrival – Adrian Ramos
(Image from Getty)

It is a meteoric rise for the 24 year old who finished this season as Serie A’s top goalscorer with 22 goals. Having emerged from the Juventus youth system, Immobile struggled to make an impact, with the Turin giants eventually sending him out on loan firstly to Siena and then to Grosseto with little success. It was his third loan period in 2011 to Pescara that really kick started Immobile’s rise with the then 21 year old bagging 28 goals in 37 appearances for the club. Half way through the season, Genoa paid Juventus €4 million for 50% of the player’s rights with the agreement that Immobile would join them that summer. He did so but failed to spark with Juventus eventually buying back the 50% for a lesser fee of €2.75 million before they quickly sold the same 50% to city rivals Torino for the same fee. The move would prove to be massively beneficial to all concerned with Immobile forging a clever partnership with Alessio Cerci which helped Torino to a 7th place finish in Serie A this season. That prompted Klopp and Dortmund to splash out on Immobile which gave both Torino and Juventus a healthy return on their initial investments.

Immobile in action for Torino  (Image from AFP)

Immobile in action for Torino
(Image from AFP)

Replacing Lewandowski will not be an easy challenge but the arrival of Ramos and Immobile should soften the blow. Both are evolving into full internationals and are likely to impress at the World Cup with their respective countries. At 28, Ramos is seen as a strategic investment, brought in to do a job for the next few seasons as the evolution of the club happens. But the signing of 24 year old Immobile is an indication of a new (yet old) direction that Klopp wants to take Dortmund in, refocusing on one of their key principles – to focus on and develop youth. It has been a guiding light for Dortmund in recent years that has become dim thanks to chasing trophies on various fronts. But now Klopp wants to reignite that flame with a new generation of Dortmund players. The arrival of Immobile and Milos Jojic, a December capture from Partizan Belgrade, herald the beginning of the new dawn for Die Schwarzgelben. More new faces are expected over the coming months with Klopp preparing his team for the challenges ahead.

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European Squad Announcements Shock Few – Part 2

Dzeko will lead the line for Bosnia (Image from PA)Fresh from helping Manchester City secure their second Premier League title in three years, Edin Dzeko’s will now turn his focus towards leading the line for Bosnia in their first ever World Cup appearance. Head Coach Safet Sušić has put his faith in the squad that got them to Brazil naming few changes to his provisional 30 man squad. Bosnia will look towards Roma’s Miralem Pjanic for inspiration from midfield whilst will relay on Dzeko and strike partner Vedad Ibisevic to score the goals needed to advance past the fellow Group F competitors Argentina, Nigeria and Iran. At the back, Stoke’s Asmir Begovic will play in goal whilst Emir Spahic and Sead Kolasinac, who both play in the Bundesliga, will be in place to protect him. The former Yugoslav Republic, who joined FIFA in 1996, qualified top of Group G in the European qualifying stages at the expense of Greece who were forced into the play off’s. They eventually did progress at the expense of Romania and will look to build upon the success they found ten years ago at Euro 2004, when they shocked the world by beating Portugal in the final. Manager Fernando Santos, who will step down after the tournament, has named a familiar looking squad as he finalized his 23 for Brazil. Fulham’s Konstantinos Mitroglou will compete with Celtic’s Giorgios Samaras, PAOK’s Dimitris Salpingidis and Greek legend Theofanis Gekas for the starting striker position after Santos axed three other competitors. Forwards Dimitris Papadopoulos, Nikos Karelis and Stefanos Athanasiadis all miss out as do Olympiacos defender Avraam Papadopoulos and more surprisingly PAOK midfielder Sotiris Ninis. The never aging Giorgos Karagounis will captain the team as part of a highly experienced squad.

Konstantinos Mitroglou is one of four options for Greece  (Image from Getty)

Konstantinos Mitroglou is one of four options for Greece
(Image from Getty)

Also favouring experience is Portugal coach Paulo Bento who sliced his provisional squad down to 23 on Monday much to the disappointment of Ricardo Quaresma and Inter’s Rolando who miss out. Cristiano Ronaldo unsurprisingly makes the cut despite struggling for fitness as does Monaco’s Joao Moutinho and Manchester United’s Nani. Only one Benfica player (Rúben Amorim) makes the cut despite a fantastic season that saw them regain the Portuguese title and end up as runner’s up in yet another Europa League final. Andre Gomes and Ruben Rafael in particular were worth spot in the team but both have time on their sides so playing for Portugal at a major international tournament is likely to happen for them in the future. The same can’t be said for Josip Šimunić who misses out on one last World Cup campaign for Croatia after making a neo Nazi salute after the conclusion of his country’s nail biting playoff victory over Iceland. He was suspended for 10 games by FIFA, meaning he misses out on his last chance of a final swansong. His international career is now surely over which will be a huge blow to the 36 year old. Also missing out in new Barcelona signing Alen Halilovic who was expected to be the wildcard selection in Niko Kovac’s squad. But the head coach has gone for experience over flair and selected the likes of Niko Kranjcar, Ognjen Vukojevic and Luka Modric instead. Whilst he hasn’t cut his provisional squad of 30 down yet, there were some interesting inclusions such as 19 year old Hajduk Splits midfielder Mario Pasalic and Fiorentina’s 20 year old striker Ante Rebic. Both youngsters are part of an exciting new breed of talent (including Halilovic) that is emerging from Croatia, partly due to most teams in the region having to downsize and focus more on youth players to survive the financial crisis. This tournament comes too soon for them but expect to see a more dominant Croatia side in forthcoming international events.

Disappointed to miss out - Alen Halilovic  (Image from Getty)

Disappointed to miss out – Alen Halilovic
(Image from Getty)

Also nurturing youth is Switzerland who have named an interesting team for the World Cup. Alongside the experienced figures of Valon Berhami and captain Gokhan Inler are fresh faces like Wolsbergs Ricardo Rodriguez, Basel’s Fabian Schar, Grasshopper’s Michael Lang and Numberg’s striking sensation Jospi Drmic who finished this season with 17 goals to his name. Speaking of Germany, manager Joachim Low has always been an advocate of developing young talent and Germany have that in abundance. Low named 27 players in his provisional squad including youngsters Julian Draxler, Matthias Ginter and Kevin Volland alongside now permanent fixtures like Mario Gotze and Mezut Ozil. Lazio striker Miroslav Klose is looking to play in his fourth world cup and will lead the line unless Chelsea’s Andre Schurrle can convince Low that he is the better option.

Germany's Young Gun - Julian Draxler  (Image from AFP)

Germany’s Young Gun – Julian Draxler
(Image from AFP)

Striking decisions are also affecting Cesare Prandelli in the Italy dressing room but for all the right reasons. He has a wealth of options to choose from in his provisional list including the experienced trio of Giuseppe Rossi, Mario Balotelli and Antonio Cassano. But a host of young pretenders like Mattia Destro, Lorenzo Insigne and Ciro Immobile are all competing for a final spot in the team. At the back, the shock exclusion of Domenico Criscito and Davide Astori still has many wondering why whilst Alberto Gilardino and Pablo Osvaldo’s exclusions are more to do with character rather than talent. New Manchester United manager Louis Van Gaal has no such problems as he already knows that Robin Van Persie and Klaas Jan Huntelaar will lead the line for Holland in his final tournament in charge. The disappointment of losing Kevin Strootman to long term injury has forced the Dutch coach into a change of tactics with him now preferring a 5-3-2 formation. That means that the likes of Jean-Paul Boëtius, Quincy Promes and Jonathan de Guzmán all run the risk of being cut from the squad as Van Gaal names his 23. Manchester City defender Karim Rekik, who has been on loan at PSV this season, was a surprise call up into the provisional squad but is likely to be axed as well as Holland gear up for the World Cup.

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April Round up – Goals, Gaffs and Guardiola

A Newcastle fan punches a horse (Image from Getty)May is the one of the most exciting months in domestic football. As the season draws to close, fans are poised on the edge of their seats waiting to see if their team is successful in winning the league, avoiding the drop or lifting the cup. For the first time since their famous win in 1997, Borussia Dortmund are looking forward to the Champions League final at Wembley on the 25th May, where they will face either Barcelona or fierce rivals Bayern Munich. The odds are firmly stacked against the Spanish side who trail 4-0 from the first leg but miracles do happen. Back in the Premiership, the fight for the title is over with Manchester United beating Manchester City to the post and picking up their 20th title, an english record. All eyes are now focused on the bottom of the table to see who will join QPR and Reading in the Championship next year. Newcastle, Wigan, Aston Villa and Sunderland are in a vicious dog fight with all four clubs desperate to avoid the drop.

On the Move - Mario Gotze  (Image from Reuters)

Champions League Final bound – Mario Gotze
(Image from Reuters)

Last month we took at look at two of those teams – Sunderland and Newcastle, focusing on two key stories, Sunderland’s appointment of controversal manager Paolo Di Canio and Newcastle’s recent slump which has left them dangling in the bottom half of the table. Di Canio got off to a flyer with unexpected wins against Everton and Newcastle before being cruelly brought back to earth with a bump by a rampant Aston Villa. Newcastle, who lost the Tyne Wear derby 3-0 have had a bad month, both on the pitch and off it. On the pitch, they crashed out of a winnable Europa League after defeat against Benfica then saw their domestic form slump as well picking up only 5 points out of a possible 15 during April. Off the pitch, the Tyne Wear derby was marred by the return of the english hooligan with Newcastle fans rioting after the match and one fan even punching a police horse. They were not alone in a month to forget for English football followers as fans of Millwall, Stoke, Bradford and Portsmouth all contributed to tarnishing the beautiful game’s reputation.

New Sunderland Boss Di Canio  (Image from Getty)

New Sunderland Boss Di Canio
(Image from Getty)

Also leading the charge in setting a bad example was Liverpool’s Luis Suarez who was banned for 10 games following an incident against Chelsea where he appeared to bite the arm of Branislav Ivanovic. The striker was slammed by his manager and the club for his actions before dramatically performing a U-turn and defending his actions, insisting it wasn’t worth a ten match ban. Very strange indeed. It could have been a lot worse for Liverpool, just look at AEK Athens who are now having to fight for survival without influential young midfielder Giorgos Katidis, now serving a ban for performing a nazi salute as a celebration. The incident which happened in March has not help AEK’s plight as they desperately tried to avoid the drop. However Sunday’s defeat in the final game, and a three-point deduction handed down for fan violence has resulted in AEK being relegated and dropping out of the Greek Super League for the first time in their history.

Suarez sinks his teeth in  (Image from SkySports)

Suarez sinks his teeth in
(Image from SkySports)

As AEK dismiss their manager following relegation, other teams across Europe are gearing up to follow suit. In a piece we called the six degrees of managerial separation, we predicted a chain of events that would start with Real Madrid and exiting manager Jose Mourinho and end back at Real with their new potential coach. See if you agree with us on our predictions. One manager who has already been confirmed is Bayern Munich’s new head coach, Pep Guardiola who has already started his revolution by signing Borussia Dortmund winger Mario Gotze. The player arrives for a record german transfer fee and kicks off what is sure to be a transformational time for the Bavarian club. Another club preparing for a transformational season is Cardiff City who led by Scot Malky Mackay celebrated last month with promotion to the Premiership. Cardiff will want to avoid the same fate as many promoted teams who find the move to difficult and end up back in the Championship after only a year. We looked at what Cardiff need to do to avoid the drop in their first season in England’s top division.

Going in the right direction - Cardiff win promotion  (Image from BBC)

Going in the right direction – Cardiff win promotion
(Image from BBC)

Also making the news last month was the never aging story of Nigerian footballer Taribo West, who Serbian officials are now pursuing over allegations that he lied about his age to gain a contract with Partizan Belgrade. It would appear that he is not the only player to have done this with other players from the same region reported to have done this. Two players who don’t need to do this just yet are Esbjerg’s Youssef Toutouh and Utrecht’s Mike van der Hoorn who made the news in April but for different reasons. Toutouh took the plaudits in April with a stunning effort against high-flying Randers whilst Van Der Hoorn felt the heat due to a clumsy error in Utrechts 6-0 defeat at the hands of AZ Alkmaar. Both players have exciting careers ahead of them so we are sure this won’t be the last time we hear from them. Also featured a crazy Bulgarian coach ripping up a referees cards, a goal from a goalkeeper, Bebeto’s resignation from the CBF and a look at Hamburg’s tactical woes in what proved to be a busy month. May is likely to throw up more interesting stories so please keep checking the blog and enjoy!

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Guardiola Grabs Gotze As His Revolution Picks Up The Pace

Bayern Bound - Gotze (Image from MIS Sweden Germany )Jupp Heynckes might still be in the hot seat but the Pep Guardiola revolution at Bayern Munich has already started with the Spanish coach making his first move in the transfer market by splashing out a new record German fee for Borussia Dortmund’s Mario Gotze. The pacey winger has been a revelation for his team over the past three seasons after Dortmund manager Jurgen Klopp promoted him from the club’s youth setup but will join Bayern when the current season ends. Bayern have agreed to pay a record breaking £31.5m to sign the Germany international in a move which formally kicks off a new era at the club following the appointment of their first ever Spanish coach.

On the Move - Mario Gotze  (Image from Reuters)

On the Move – Mario Gotze
(Image from Reuters)

Gotze joins the club at a time of transition with Guardiola likely to adjust the team to his liking. Suspected departures include the aging trio of Daniel Van Buyten, Anatoliy Tymoshchuk and Claudio Pizzarro and the second string pairing of Luiz Gustavo and Rafinha in favour of some fresh young blood, in a similar mold of Gotze. Bayer Leverkusen may be bracing themselves for a double bid from Guardiola for Andre Schürrle and Lars Bender whilst Borussia might not have seen the last of them as they circle back for prolific striker Robert Lewandowski and defender Mats Hummel. Similarly the form of Freiburg defender Oliver Sorg, Eintracht Frankfurt duo defender Sebastian Jung and midfielder Sebastien Rode as well as Bochum’s rising star Leon Goretzka will not have gone unnoticed to the Spaniard who will look to bring in exciting German talent into his already impressive squad. Guardiola will also look to other shores to strengthen with likely candidates being the controversial biter Luis Suarez, Barcelona’s Thiago and Newcastle’s Cheick Tiote whilst also looking to promote exciting youngsters from the youth setup into his first team.

Rising Star - Leon Goretzka  (Image from Getty)

Rising Star – Leon Goretzka
(Image from Getty)

But Gotze is and will be the glamour signing and what a signing they have made. Comfortable on both wing and possessing breathtaking speed and close control, Gotze is one of the most exciting young players in the game today. Over three seasons, the twenty year old has scored twenty two goals from wide positions and created countless more on route to back to back domestic league titles in 2010-11 and 2011-12. Seen as one of the best products of the Borussia youth setup for decades, Gotze is now one of the first names on Klopp’s team sheet and a fully fledged member of Joachim Low’s national squad too. The news of Gotze’s decision to leave and Bayern’s purchase (having activated a release clause in his contract) has upset the talented Klopp but the Dortmund boss holds no animosity towards his star player, despite his somewhat sarcastic response to the media when questioned over the transfer:

Gotze was the player Guardiola wished to sign. So if it’s anyone’s fault it’s mine. I cannot make myself 15cm smaller and learn Spanish. Gotze wants to work with this extraordinary coach that is Guardiola. I cannot preach football of quick transitions and now start playing Tiki Taka. Mario knows he owes a lot to the club, but I know he gave a lot back as well”

Not Happy - Klopp (Image from PA)

Not Happy – Klopp (Image from PA)

Klopp knows he has lost one of his best players to the clubs biggest rivals which will hurt for some time but he will start the rebuilding process in earnest as he looks to re-strength his squad ahead of the new season and a new title challenge. He will also be looking forward to testing his skills against one of the best coaches in the world in Guardiola. Munich will be stronger than this season and Dortmund know they will need to be up to the task if they are to peg them back. Munich have been in dazzling form this season, losing only once to Bayer Leverkusen (an 87th minute strike by Sidney Sam ruined their chances of an unbeaten season) and conceding only 14 goals. Guardiola could not have dreamed for a better time to take charge of a new club, especially one that is flying so high this year.

Let the Games Begin - Guardiola makes his first move  (Image form Getty)

Let the Games Begin – Guardiola makes his first move
(Image form Getty)

As Heynckes prepares to vacate his position, the legacy that he leaves to Guardiola may well include a Champions league title after a convincing 4-0 victory at home to Pep’s old team, Barcelona in the first leg of the semi finals of that competition put them in a commanding place. But that will matter little to Guardiola, who has won the same event twice as a coach already and is looking more towards the future of the club and its next metamorphism. No transition can start without the initial spark and it appears as though Gotze is that spark. Guardiola’s Bayern revolution is firmly underway, even before he arrives in Germany. The fans will demand success and Guardiola will want to deliver it, that is with the help of his new Messi, Mario Gotze.

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