Fans around the football world are always searching for the next wave of superstars. Borussia Dortmund attacking midfielder Mario Gotze would certainly be on the short list after illustrating his immense potential over the past few years.
His rise has been noticed by managers throughout Europe, which has made him a popular transfer target during recent windows. The Borussians have been unsurprisingly hesitant to move him, however, having seen first hand what he's capable of.
Gotze's ascent has continued during the first half of the current campaign. He's scored 11 goals, which already represents a career high, in 24 matches across all competitions. The midfielder has chipped in five assists as well.
While the 20-year-old Germany international is clearly beginning to produce at a high rate, it's his natural talent that continues to attract attention from around the globe.
Whether playing at the club or international level, Gotze has shown off a tremendous pairing of creativity and speed, making him a nightmare to defend. His ability to read an opposing back line and react quickly is uncanny.
Despite the skill Gotze continues to show playing alongside stars like Robert Lewandowski and Marco Reus with Dortmund, the best is yet to come. He's only scratched the surface of his capabilities, and it's only a matter of time before he takes the next step toward stardom.
He can still improve his distribution in the final third, which would turn him into the prototypical attacking midfielder. When opposing defenders know they must not only defend the shot but also pinpoint passes, it makes their job nearly impossible.
Gotze isn't there quite yet, but he's seemingly getting closer with each passing month. Getting to play against Champions League competition helps accelerate the process. He's been able to hold his own in the elite club tournament but is starting to figure out how to stand out and excel.
Again, the key word is potential. Gotze is already a very good player, but he's capable of becoming a special talent in the coming years. Dortmund fans just hope they get to see his maturation process continue.
Even though the transfer talk hasn't been as intense as some other recent windows, Gotze is still on the radar of several top clubs. Simon Jones of the Daily Mail reports the midfielder has a £30 million release clause, with Manchester United, Arsenal and Real Madrid among the teams interested.
The good news for Dortmund fans is Gotze hasn't shown a desire to jump ship anytime soon. He was recently asked about a potential move and didn't sound interested in the idea, according to Andrew Wychrij of Goal.com.
"Quite honestly, I see no reason for me to deal with a change," the young Germany international replied when asked if he would consider a move to Bayern Munich.
"Since I came into the Dortmund youth set-up, I've never really dealt with it. I have everything I need and I even want to build a house in Dortmund, because I feel so comfortable in the city."
That's music to the ears of the Borussians and their supporters. His commitment to the club gives hope that he can grow and thrive in Germany, instead of heading to England or Spain when the big-money offers start getting thrown around.
Things can change over time, of course. But at least for the time being it appears Gotze will work on taking his game to the next level at Dortmund. There's no reason to believe he won't continue to shine, even without a move to Manchester United or Real Madrid.
He's made a name for himself with Dortmund and can become a superstar with the German club, too.