Mario Gotze will need to “take a step down in his career” if the decision is taken by Borussia Dortmund to set him free, says Lothar Matthaus, with it unlikely that the World Cup winner will find “a top club”.
A man who fired Germany to global glory in 2014 is approaching the end of his current contract.
Dortmund have offered no indication that they will be looking to agree fresh terms with the 27-year-old midfielder.
That means he will drop into the free agency pool over the summer.
Gotze will be given the opportunity to take on a new challenge, potentially allowing him to rediscover a spark which has been lost since his memorable showing against Argentina six years ago.
Bayern Munich allowed him to return to Dortmund in 2016, but the once highly-rated playmaker has been a shadow of his former self.
Only 14 goals have been recorded in 98 appearances, with just five Bundesliga starts taken in during the 2019-20 campaign.
It is now difficult to see how Gotze can entice a top club to take a gamble on him, with links to the likes of Liverpool having never been far away in the recent past.
He remains a player that Reds boss Jurgen Klopp knows well from their time together at Dortmund, but Matthaus believes ambition is going to have to be reined in.
The former Germany and Bayern star told Sky Deutschland: “I can't see him joining a top club.
“Mario has achieved so much and secured the World Cup for us [in 2014]. He had great years at Dortmund and also had his moments at Bayern. But you have to ask: Where is a type of player like Gotze in demand?
“He has to take a step down in his career, not just club-wise, but also in terms of salary.”
Gotze has admitted that living up to his billing on the back of netting a World Cup-winning goal has been difficult.
He told The Athletic: "Once I stop playing, it will probably be the experience I cherish most, the first thing that comes to mind. There is nothing more amazing [than the final goal].
"But for my active career, it was not that great, perhaps. The strong emotional response created huge expectations.
"It became lodged in people's minds that I was the guy to score decisive goals in decisive games all the time. That was the assumption out there."