To a lot of people, the idea that a 27-year-old international striker who's scored 75 league goals in the last four seasons might be surplus to requirements at a club—even the current European champions—is a little hard to comprehend.
Whatever Bayern Munich's thinking, however, it seems fairly certain that Mario Gomez will be leaving Bavaria this summer in search of pastures new and a club that might better appreciate his contributions.
Chief among those destinations touted is Florence, as per Die Roten (via Kyle Bonn of NBC Sports' Pro Soccer Talk). Vincenzo Montella's Fiorentina are among the most entertaining teams in European football but having narrowly missed out on Champions League qualification to Max Allegri's Milan, they need to strengthen over the summer to push on in 2013-14.
A striker will be on top of Montella's shopping list. Last season, Stevan Jovetic lead the line for the Viola, but for all of the Montenegrin's talents—and they are abundant—he's not an out-and-out striker, nor is he extremely prolific.
Jovetic's game is about more than just goals, but any side in search of Champions League football needs more than 13 strikes from its lead man in a season. The young forward is undoubtedly a player that catches the eye, but his importance to Montella—his goals account for 18 percent of the side's total, compared to Edinson Cavani, who scored 40 percent of Napoli's sum—is often overstated.
Juan Guillermo Cuadrado, for instance, would be a lot harder to replace and over the course of 2012-13, more influential more often.
Luckily for the former Roma striker-turned-manager, then, that the Colombian will stay put in Florence next term. It's Jovetic who looks set to leave, but a signing like Gomez would mean he wouldn't be missed too much.
The German forward is the perfect fit for Fiorentina and Montella. Both the club and the manager know the value of a player like Gomez better than most. It was in the purple colours of the Stadio Artemio Franchi outfit that Argentinian legend Gabriel Batistuta made his name.
The mercurial Batigol enjoyed a decade up front for Fiorentina—and the fans enjoyed his goals. The former Boca Juniors man scored more than 200 goals for the Viola before joining Montella in the Italian capital for a memorable Scudetto win with the Giallorossi.
Batistuta was one of the all-time greats and a legend not likely to be usurped in Tuscany any time soon. In many ways the ideal forward, he was athletic, intelligent, skilled on the ball, good at creating space off of it and lethal in the air.
Not an easy package to replicate by any means, but there are shades of Batigol about Gomez. He's tall, powerful, cultured, reliable in front of goal and formidable in the air. It's not for nothing that Bayern paid €30 million to VfB Stuttgart for his signature, after all.
The market has just opened, and a player with the characteristics and track record of Gomez is going to interest plenty of clubs. But after being deemed superfluous by Bayern, the chance to become the leading light at one of the continent's most exciting clubs is certain to interest a player who, in spite of all the titles he's won, still has a lot to prove.
He'll also have one eye on the World Cup next summer, a goal that won't be helped by a season on the bench in Munich. Firing the Viola to the Champions League, however, would do wonders for his claim to a Germany shirt in 2014.
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