If offered, Mario Gotze would probably take a mulligan.
In the strange world of in-season German football announcements, the then-20-year-old announced his departure from Borussia Dortmund to Bayern Munich in April 2013.
Costing the Bavarian giants £31.5 million, the price seemed commensurate with his displayed prowess and assumed potential—the timing, though, was slightly off-putting.
Having to watch his current employers lose at Wembley Stadium to his future club in the 2012/13 UEFA Champions League final, one could see tension on Gotze's face when television cameras were pointed in his direction, and that apparent conflict has followed the Germany international ever since.
Bayern Munich are an established European superpower. Gotze was expected to hit the ground running, and while not flopping, he certainly hasn't flourished at the Allianz Arena.
With Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery suffering chronic injuries over the past 24 months, one might have assumed the 23-year-old would be head coach Pep Guardiola's premier attacking threat, but that form has not materialised.
Gotze's own injury woes and mountains of surrounding talent have made 2015/16 an extraordinary challenge. Only starting five matches in the Bundesliga this campaign, many are thinking the World Cup-winning midfielder is searching for greener pastures elsewhere.
Andy Hunter of the Guardian suggests Liverpool are "confident of signing" the Bayern Munich playmaker—reuniting Gotze with his former Dortmund manager Jurgen Klopp. The report poses £30 million as the requested sum, the Reds wanting a deal closer to £15 million.
Whatever the magic number, Klopp getting his hands on a talented, young footballer who knows his system would be a massive step forward in his Anfield project.
That being said, Liverpool are not the only club with means, they are standout candidates because of their manager, but upwards of £30 million is feasible for most competitive European outfits.
Gotze should go back to Dortmund rather than moving to Liverpool, Dortmund are the better side and would fit into the team easily— Paul (@VintageDeGea) March 28, 2016
Maybe Gotze's most intriguing landing spot (if, indeed, his Munich days are dwindling) is back with Borussia Dortmund. The manner he left might have put some BVB supporters off—burning jerseys and whatever else scorned fans do—but time heals most wounds.
Comparing Dortmund to Liverpool will be easier after their UEFA Europa League clash, but judging this decision from league tables and their respective brands of football, one would be hard-pressed ignoring the oasis of talent BVB currently employ. Having to rebuild themselves after Gotze and Robert Lewandowski left, head coach Thomas Tuchel has the best Signal Iduna Park side since 2012/13.
Five points behind Europe's best team, not named "Barcelona," in the Bundesliga table is fantastic reading. Capturing their lost piece (for profit) and then marrying him with Ilkay Gundogan, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Marco Reus could be the difference in shifting German football's power.
Moreover, Liverpool cannot guarantee Champions League football next year, Dortmund would have to melt down (read: "Chernobyl levels") to miss the highest order of European football in 2016/17.
In nearly every respect, Gotze improves his career and (one assumes) international standing by leaving Bayern and returning to BVB. His contract with Munich ends after next season, so unless the defending champions are willing to risk him not signing an extension, any legitimate offer should get them thinking.
The only issue one can find is pride. Would Gotze swallow his and return to Dortmund—almost admitting a mistake—or does it seem easier going to the Premier League and his old manager?
Only he could answer that, but BVB looks like a winning scenario; and maybe that's the missing puzzle piece.
Dortmund always looked like a winning situation. It made Gotze's Munich excursion a head-scratcher from the start, and why, if asked, he would probably take that mulligan.