Mario Gomez: Rejuvenated at Fiorentina?

For much of the current Serie A campaign, the headlines regarding former FC Bayern superstar striker Mario Gomez have spoken of a player who has lost his form and was but a shell of his former self as injuries hounded the former German international.

Many in Italy were simply giving up hope when it came to Gomez and his career in the Italian league.

It appears, however, that Gomez is back to full health and form, delivering three goals in his last two matches, including a brace against Atalanta to help his club advance in the Coppa Italia. Gomez’s crucial opening goal in Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Roma has revived talk of the German as a top striker, helping end Roma’s hopes of a Scudetto, while also reminding those in his new country he was once among the best finishers in the world while dominating the Bundesliga for both Bayern and VfB Stuttgart.

Those who were decrying Gomez as “over the hill” had support for their argument, as the striker had found the back of the net only five times in 31 matches since his expensive and wildly celebrated transfer to Fiorentina.

Now, his 29 years of age, seems on the right side of that hill, especially considering how well fellow countryman Miroslav Klose has played at times for Lazio. Based on the mileage Gomez racked up while at München, the slowing down of Gomez has perhaps been something that Fiorentina should have expected.

These past few matches have shown that, even with a slower body and a club that is in a lower quality than the German sides for which Gomez once played (Jupp Heynckes-era Bayern and VfB Stuttgart’s championship squad), that he can in fact still use his anticipation to find the back of the net in timely situations. Doing so in what were perhaps Fiorentina’s two biggest matches of the season should also be unsurprising considering Gomez’s big-game reputation from both the Bundesliga and in international duty.

The biggest question regarding Gomez will be whether he can ever get back to consistently being in the Starting XI for Fiorentina, and if so, bring consistency in form. It remains to be seen whether he can do that without the support he enjoyed at Bayern from players such as Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben delivering service for his finishing touch. More of a throwback, classical striker, Gomez needs chances created for him, something that has been as much a problem for him as his series of injuries while in Italy.

Because of the slight decline in athleticism and the decline in quality of playmakers among his teammates, it’s fair to expect that Gomez will never again reach the heights he enjoyed in the Bundesliga, unless he is placed in a situation that is more beneficial to his strengths as a veteran poacher in the box. That would require a move away from Fiorentina that would still define the Gomez experiment as a failure, but it could still become reality if the club is in a selling mood come summer, a true possibility should Fiorentina fall short of European qualification at season’s end.

Right now, it appears there is still a chance Gomez could rewrite the narrative of his failure at Fiorentina as the most-expensive transfer in club history. With the club remaining within striking distance of European qualification and still alive in the Coppa Italia, Gomez rediscovering his form has brought energy to the club at a most needed time.

Chasing Lazio, Napoli, and Sampdoria, the X-Factor in the Serie A race may just be a man who has guided his clubs to glory with consistent goal-scoring for nearly a decade. Now in Italy, Fiorentina hope that the clocks can be turned back for a man who, when at top form, is easily one of the top strikers currently in the Serie A.

Only time will tell if that happens, but after his two best matches in a Fiorentina kit, there is hope that the career of Gomez can be restored to a level expected of a player who, at one point, was widely considered one of the best forwards, not only in the Bundesliga, but in all of European football.

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