Goetze edges closer to Klopp reunion

Mario Goetze during a training session with the German national team at the Allianz Arena in Munich, ahead of their friendly match against Italy early this morning (Singapore time).
Mario Goetze during a training session with the German national team at the Allianz Arena in Munich, ahead of their friendly match against Italy early this morning (Singapore time). PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

LONDON • Liverpool are confident of completing the marquee signing of Mario Goetze this summer with the World Cup winner understood to be keen on working with Juergen Klopp again.

The Liverpool manager has identified Goetze as a transfer priority for the end of the season and the Anfield club are increasingly optimistic of securing the 23-year-old German's signature.

The attacking midfielder's career has stalled at Bayern Munich, where he has made only 12 appearances this season, and he is keen on a move away from the Allianz Arena despite the impending arrival of Carlo Ancelotti as Pep Guardiola's replacement.

Bayern want almost £30 million (S$58.6 million) for the player they signed from Borussia Dortmund in 2013 but Liverpool hope a deal can be agreed for about £20 million.

That valuation is based on Goetze having only 12 months remaining on his Bayern contract at the end of this season and his reluctance to sign an extension.

Arsenal are also interested in the player who scored Germany's winning goal in the 2014 World Cup final but the attraction of working with Klopp for a second time has given Liverpool a significant advantage.

Goetze enjoyed the finest period of his career for Klopp at Dortmund, scoring 22 goals in 83 Bundesliga appearances and playing a key role in the club's two Bundesliga titles, one German Cup success and progress to the 2013 Champions League final.

Klopp knows his former Dortmund charge is ideally suited to the style he wants at Anfield and is using his contacts in Germany for the first summer transfer window of his Anfield reign.

The Liverpool manager played an influential role in persuading the Cameroon international defender Joel Matip to leave Schalke for Merseyside when his contract expires at the Bundesliga club this summer.

Liverpool have also signed the highly rated Red Star Belgrade playmaker Marko Grujic for next season, although at 19 years of age, the £5.1 million recruit will need time to adapt to the Premier League.

A fundamental element of the decision to appoint Klopp last October was a belief that his reputation would allow Liverpool to attract a higher calibre of players more regularly.

Last weekend, Jonas Hector, the Cologne and Germany left-back, offered an indication of his desire when he stated that he would have to consider his future if he received a phone call from Klopp.

On Monday, Piotr Zielinski, the Empoli midfielder, went a stage further, admitting that he has been doing due diligence on Klopp and detailing where he could fit into the Liverpool team should their ongoing pursuit of him prove successful.

Goetze's arrival would represent a far bigger coup for Liverpool and Klopp, however, despite his recent difficulties with the Bundesliga champions.

His ability to operate across the frontline is an added attraction for Klopp as the Liverpool manager seeks to strengthen in the summer, with inherent, expensive signings such as £32.5 million Christian Benteke expected to make way.

THE GUARDIAN, THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 30, 2016, with the headline 'Goetze edges closer to Klopp reunion'. Print Edition | Subscribe