The timing of the announcement was a strange one. With plenty of football still to be played this season, and with both the buying and the selling club still involved in the Champions League, it was announced that Mario Gotze would be leaving Borussia Dortmund for Bayern Munich in the summer.
On its most obvious level, it was news. But it could also be seen as a subtle and yet strangely effective football tactic.
For the deal to be announced less than 24-hours before Bayern met and ultimately dismantled Barcelona was telling for a number of reasons.
Rumours persisted that should Gotze go anywhere, it would be to the Nou Camp. And yet to announce that the 20-year-old would in fact be calling the Allianz Arena home next season was a small victory over the Spanish side before they had even kicked off.
The news would have also motivated the current Bayern team. After all, who wouldn’t perform when they know one of the brightest young talents in European football is arriving to potentially take your place in the side?
Of course this isn’t any ordinary team. Already the best in Germany they have now gone a long way to proving themselves the best in Europe.
But Gotze’s signing showed that no matter how good they had been, they weren’t perfect, they weren’t a side without need of rejuvenation.
Hiring former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola to be their next manager surely hurts the most. But winning the race for an apparent transfer target was a kick in the teeth on the day when the psychological battle is as important as the physical one.
In short, the news reinforced the strength of the German league just as its best came up against the side many regard as the best ever.
The fact that Gotze chose to remain in the Bundesliga instead of moving to La Liga was a small reminder of the turning tide. The bigger reminder came a few hours later in Bayern’s 4-0 win.
Of course it may have leaked out by accident. Or it may have just been news meant as news.
But the timing suggests otherwise. And if it was meant as a tactic, a subtle suggestion to both Barcelona and Bayern’s own players, it clearly worked.
Was the announcement of Gotze's signing anything more than a cannily-timed headline?
image: © jiazi