Bayern Munich midfielder Mario Gotze has called for comparisons with Barcelona star Lionel Messi to stop, insisting that they are completely different types of players.
Gotze has not featured for Bayern since scoring in a 5-1 win over Borussia Dortmund back in October after suffering a groin injury in Germany’s European Championship qualifying defeat by the Republic of Ireland.
The 23-year-old became an instant hero after scoring the winning goal in the 2014 World Cup final victory over Argentina, with national coach Joachim Low revealing afterwards that he told Gotze to show that he was better than Messi.
And the former Dortmund star has now suggested that Low’s advice should have remained private and that, as a result, there have been unrealistic expectations placed on his shoulders.
Asked if Low’s comments did little to slow down public expectations of him, Gotze told Goal: “Not really, that’s right. At the time Jogi Low said that to me, it was very motivating. In retrospect, silence about it would have been better.
“Perhaps journalists began comparing me with Messi after this but that just makes no sense. We play in different positions. You would not compare a defender with a striker. They should arrange things right, which is not always done, in the context of me as a player.
“To score in the World Cup final is not a small story, of course. Every footballer dreams of it: first to become a world champion and then even better to score in the final. This happened to me and I’m glad.
“After that the public expectation has again gone up, definitely. If someone has reached a certain level, it is always expected that he becomes better and better but there are also phases in which it does not run so smoothy – and that’s human.
“I look primarily at my own expectations. These include improving steadily. I am doing everything to achieve that, I can assure you.”
Gotze has now been sidelined for over four months but, having now completed his third week of training as part of his recovery, the midfielder insists that he is ready to return to action for Pep Guardiola’s side.
“I feel good, I am fit and in good spirits,” he enthused. “Anyone who was been injured for a long period can emphasise how happy you are when you are able to be back on the pitch. Of course, the match rhythm is still missing; I cannot have it yet.
“Also you have to get back the trust in your body after such a long injury but, with my third week of training in the bag, I’m just looking forward to Saturday. I’m ready.”