Mario Gomez said Thursday that his priorities at new club Wolfsburg are to get them back in the Champions League and make sure his want-away Germany team-mate Julian Draxler stays.
The 31-year-old Gomez is enjoying an Indian summer of his career, having been top scorer in the Turkish league last season with 26 goals while on loan at Besiktas.
Gomez has signed for Wolfsburg from Fiorentina and held his first press conference on his return to the Bundesliga after a three-year sojourn in Italy and Turkey.
The ex-Bayern Munich and Stuttgart striker admits the fact Wolfsburg will play in neither the Champions League nor the Europa League this season had been a factor.
But Wolfsburg reached the Champions League quarter-finals last season, losing to eventual winners Real Madrid, and Gomez says the team has the potential to return to the international stage.
“I wanted to join a team which plays in the Champions League,” said Gomez, who has signed a three-year contract and reportedly cost seven million euros ($7.8m).
“I had conversations with other teams, but they already had top strikers or they wouldn’t have made it out of the Champions League’s group stages, which didn’t make much sense.
“I considered which team had the most potential to play in the Champions League.
“I wanted to return to the Bundesliga and had a good feeling here after a few conversations.
“It’s bitter that Wolfsburg aren’t in Europe, but we have the hunger to get back there quickly.”
Gomez’s signing boosts a squad which was weakened by the off-season departures of Germany forwards Andre Schuerrle and Max Kruse, plus Brazilian defender Naldo.
Attacking midfielder Draxler had made it clear he also wanted to leave and Gomez joked that his job is to score the goals to keep his Germany team-mate happy.
“I’d like to think that one of the best German players will keep a smile on his face,” said Gomez with a grin.
Gomez netted twice for Germany in their run to the Euro 2016 semi-finals, but missed the 2-0 defeat to France with a hamstring injury.
Wolfsburg start their new Bundesliga season at Augsburg on August 27, but Gomez is expected to make his debut at home against Cologne on September 10 as he works on his fitness after injury.
Having been the Bundesliga’s top scorer in 2011 with 28 goals before his departure from Bayern, Gomez will rival Dutch striker Bas Dost for a starting berth.
Gomez cost Bayern a then Bundesliga record 30 million euros when they signed him from Stuttgart in 2009 and he has made 236 appearances, scoring 138 goals, in Germany’s top flight.
But he returns to Germany having adapted his game to be more than just a threat in the penalty area, as he demonstrated at the European championships.
The burly forward has added an element of play-making, which he showed in Germany’s quarter-final win over Italy at Euro 2016 when he created Mesut Ozil’s goal in a 1-1 draw before the Germans won a penalty shoot-out.
“I believe that I am an absolute team player,” said Gomez, who has scored 29 goals in 68 appearances for Germany.
“Perhaps, at the start I used to broadcast in the national team the fact that I always wanted to be the one who scored goals.
“But at the Euro, I showed that it’s about the bigger picture and I try to be a team player in the national team.” – Agence France-Presse