Arjen Robben has backed his under-fire Bayern Munich teammate Mario Gotze, saying the the young German's current difficulties will make him even stronger.
Gotze, 22 became a national hero in Germany when scoring the winner in the World Cup final as Die Nationalmannschaft beat Argentina 1-0 last summer. However, the former Borussia Dortmund midfielder has had a frustrating season at the Allianz Arena despite a good start with six goals in his first seven games of the season.
He has failed to find the back of the net in the Bundesliga since scoring a brace in the 8-0 demolition of Hamburg in mid-February and also was on target in the 7-0 win against Shakthar Donetsk the following month.
Since then, amid ongoing injury problems at the club, with wingers Robben and Franck Ribery ruled out of for the season, Gotze failed to contribute to Bayern's match.
Speaking to Sport1 about Gotze, Robben said: "He's got his head in the right place, is a good lad, and has all the qualities. He'll make it."
Gotze's difficulties on the pitch did not go unnoticed, especially with Bayern's honorary president Franz Beckenbauer urging the youngster to "grow up." In the wake of the criticism, Germany coach Joachim Low backed the youngster, and said that "it's not fair to measure Mario against his goal in the World Cup final" since "nobody can live up to those expectations."
Robben said it's normal for young players to go through difficult periods.
"You need to make certain experiences as a player," the Netherlands international said. "How you cope with certain situations also makes you strong as a player. Criticism can be good for your development too. You need to fight through the situation."
Robben also elaborated on his own future. The 32-year-old scored 17 goals this Bundesliga season, but has not featured for his club since first sustaining an abdominal muscle injury in the defeat to Gladbach in late March, and when returning against Dortmund left the pitch with a tear in his left calf muscle minutes after coming off the bench in the cup defeat.
"I am through the most difficult phase. It was hard to accept missing the run-in of the season. But you can't change it. I think positive again," Robben said. "I can't wait for the new season. We'll attack again."
Robben, who joined Bayern from Real Madrid in 2009, is under contract for another two years but did not rule out staying at the club beyond that date.
"Maybe I'll stay longer than 2017," he said. "I missed a bit through my injuries. And I'll add that at the end. Maybe I can play for another four, five years. I am optimistic about that."