Germany midfielder Leon Goretzka says his goal this season is simply to hold down a midfield berth at Bayern Munich in the face of star-studded competition.
The 23-year-old is seen as a future Germany star and after leaving Schalke on a free transfer, Goretzka hopes to make his mark under new Bayern coach Niko Kovac.
Despite vying with stars James Rodriguez and Thiago Alcantara for game time, Goretzka is confident of playing a key midfield role in a Bayern squad chasing a record-extending seventh straight German league title.
His aim is to succeed where World Cup winner Mario Gotze, now back at Borussia Dortmund, failed -- earning a regular midfield berth in Munich.
‘I see myself as being able to take a leadership role, I’ve already proved that, but first I have to get on the pitch and I’ll be working on that,’ said Goretzka at his first official Bayern press conference on Thursday.
He sees himself as a central midfielder, who is ‘flexible and also willing to play in a different position’.
Bayern started a week-long training camp in idyllic Tegernsee, south Bavaria, on Thursday, yet some key players could soon be sold, which would improve Goretzka’s chances.
Arturo Vidal has been linked to Inter Milan and Thiago could return to Barcelona.
Competition would still be fierce, with Renato Sanches, Corentin Tolisso, a World Cup winner with France, Javi Martinez and Thomas Mueller also seeking midfield places.
‘With nine players for three to four positions, we have an over-rich midfield which is too much in terms of quantity and quality,’ admitted Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.
Bayern have high hopes for Goretzka, who helped an inexperienced Germany squad win the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia.
He has scored six goals in 15 internationals, but played just 63 minutes of the 2018 World Cup, out of position on the right wing, in the shock 2-0 loss to South Korea which sent Germany home after the group stages.
‘He’s a really good boy and a really good footballer, he’s dynamic, fast and technically strong, he has qualities that help our team,’ said Bayern’s sports director Hasan Salihamidzic.
Goretzka will be hoping to avoid the same fate as Tolisso, who joined from Lyon for a club record 41.5 million euros ($48m), but has so far failed to live up to expectations during his first season in 2017/18.
‘Competition fuels this business, we have a lot of games, we’ll need them,’ said Salihamidzic when asked about Bayern’s wealth of midfielders.
Bayern kick off the new German league season at home to Hoffenheim on August 24 and the new coach has said past performances and reputations will count for nothing in the battle to play in the famous red shirt.
‘Everyone has to leave their ego in the background, if everyone thinks ‘I’m important’, there will be problems,’ said Kovac.
Want stories like this in your inbox?
Sign up to exclusive daily email
More Stories from Football