Borussia Dortmund midfielder Mario Gotze admits that he has not matched his own expectations but has hit out at claims he is too distant with fans and media.
The 24-year-old, who returned to Signal Iduna Park in July after struggling to settle completely at Bayern Munich, has scored just two goals in 15 appearances in all competitions this season.
Scrutiny of Gotze’s form has been intensified at times due to suggestions that he has a cold attitude towards the media and supporters, both of Dortmund and the Germany national team.
But while he admits that he can improve his performances, Gotze – who scored the winning goal in Germany’s Wold Cup final triumph over Argentina in 2014 – believes some perceptions of him are misguided.
“Statistically speaking, there’s room for improvement,” he told Kicker. “In terms of being ready to compete, I’m on the right path. I’ve only played 15 games and scored two goals, but there will be more – more goals and more assists. I have higher expectations of myself.
“Looking only at what I’ve achieved in a sporting sense is only looking at one side of the coin. I’ve played a lot of games and won a lot of trophies, and I’m still a young player. I’m proud and thankful that I’ve been able to experience what I have. If someone has a problem with me as a person, he should explain to me why.
“Can people not take me for who I am? I don’t think people’s image of me would change if I spoke to every single journalist after a game. Some people are introverted and others extroverted. I don’t mean to be distant or close with any [journalist]. I mean, I’m happy to do this interview!
“The picture people have of me is an old one. I can’t always come on in a game and score a goal like in the World Cup final. Today’s football means running, intensity and hard work. I couldn’t care less about the glamour factor of my new position. If I can score more goals and make more assists playing this role, then we’re heading in the right direction. I’m taking on different roles now, not just going forward and scoring goals.
“Five people might have five different opinions on ‘the old Mario Gotze’. I want to get away from the cliche of being a 19-year-old who plays football like he’s playing in the park. I’ve matured in the last few years.”
Dortmund resume Bundesliga duties with a trip to Werder Bremen on Saturday, with Thomas Tuchel’s side in sixth place after 16 matches and a full 12 points behind leaders Bayern Munich.
“We all imagined the season a bit differently,” Gotze conceded. “Up to the match against Bayern we were on course, but we let ourselves down against [Eintracht] Frankfurt, Cologne and Hoffenheim.
“We have a really good team with a lot of quality. If we’re able to play with more consistency in the second half of the season, then there’s a lot we can achieve. We’re still alive in the DFB-Pokal and the Champions League, although we’d have wanted a few more points in the league.”
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