VfB Stuttgart announced on Friday the shock return of striker Mario Gómez after over eight years away.
There had been little indication in the German media that the 32-year-old was set to leave VfL Wolfsburg to re-join the team he won the Bundesliga with in 2007.
However die Roten have spent €3.5 million to bring him back, with Gómez signing until 2020. Josip Brekalo meanwhile returns to Wolfsburg follow a year on loan at Stuttgart.
Gómez returns to where it all began
Gómez began his professional career with the Baden-Württemberg club and made his debut for them in 2004. In 121 Bundesliga appearances, he scored 63 goals, including 14 in the title-winning of season of 2006-07, whilst he also found the net 24 times in other competitions.
That form naturally attracted the interests of Bayern Munich, whom he left Stuttgart for in 2009 and he lasted four years, winning two further Bundesliga titles, two DFB-Pokals and the UEFA Champions League. Increased competition from Mario Mandzukic however saw him move to ACF Fiorentina after the treble-winning season on 2012-13, although he time in Italy was severely affected by injury, which also meant him missing Germany’s 2014 FIFA World Cup win.
After re-finding form and fitness on loan in Turkey with Besiktas JK, he returned to Germany with Wolfsburg in 2016. Although the Wolves battled against relegation, Gómez scored 16 goals, all but four of which came after the winter break. Although not involved in the FIFA Confederations Cup in the summer, he did also regain his place in the Germany squad. He has struggled for form again this year though, with just one goal which came against Hertha BSC.
Nevertheless, in a week where several strikers have returned to former clubs (namely Simon Terodde, Anthony Ujah and Sandro Wagner), Stuttgart have turned to their prodigal son in search of the goals they have been lacking as well. Only bottom side 1. FC Köln have scored less than the 13 they have in the league this year, with only 22-year-old winger Chadrac Akolo scoring more than twice.
Striker eyes survival and World Cup place
His return is a major coup for Stuttgart, who only returned to the Bundesliga this season after a year in the 2. Bundesliga. Sporting Director Michael Reschke said in a statement that “sometimes there are constellations in football which you wouldn’t think possible beforehand,” and therefore they are “delighted to have convinced Mario to make a return to VfB.”
He added that Gómez is “a great and a figure of identification, but also a top-class goalscorer.” Head coach Hannes Wolf meanwhile, who said he is “delighted” about signing Gómez, stressed that he and his coaching team “will do all in our power to get him integrated (in the squad) as quickly as possible.”
Gómez himself is “very happy to be back home where everything began” and “where I experienced probably the craziest part of my career,” in reference to the “unexpected” Bundesliga win of 2007. He is now focused on the dual goals of “survival in the top flight” and “achieving my goal of playing at the World Cup.”
Seemingly in response to Gómez’s move, Wolfsburg have recalled Brekalo, who had been set to remain with Stuttgart until the end of the season. In 25 league appearances for the club since joining in January, the 19-year-old has contributed two goals and two assists.
Quotes via VfB Stuttgart.