While the 28-year-old midfielder may not wear the expression of someone thrilled by the prospect of playing in the backline, his commitment and adaptability are earning him accolades.
Goretzka's foray into defence was evident in the Champions League group clash against FC Copenhagen, resulting in a 0-0 draw. This marked his second stint in an unfamiliar role, following his initial appearance in the DFB-Pokal against Munster, where Bayern triumphed 4-0. Even in the latter stages of the classic victory over Borussia Dortmund (4-0), Goretzka showcased his defensive prowess, prompting captain Manuel Neuer to affirm, "He can definitely play in that position."
However, Goretzka is not the first central midfielder to undertake the role of a centre-back for Bayern. Three notable names come to mind from recent history. Anatoliy Tymoshchuk, during the seasons 2010/11 and 2011/12, frequently shifted to the defensive centre, displaying offensive capabilities akin to Goretzka. Javi Martinez, with a background as a defender at Athletic Bilbao, found himself in the centre-back role at Bayern, while Joshua Kimmich, Goretzka's current teammate, also stepped into the position during the 2015/16 season.
Surprisingly, many speculated in the summer that Goretzka might play a diminished role in Munich, especially not as a defender. Public criticism from coach Thomas Tuchel and exclusion by the then-Germany manager Hansi Flick added fuel to these speculations. However, the current Bundesliga season has seen Goretzka become an indispensable asset for both teams, whether anchoring the midfield as a No.6 or seamlessly transitioning into the role of a defender.
Reflecting on the tumultuous summer, Goretzka remains unfazed, stating to Sky Germany, "I haven't had time to reflect; things are moving too quickly at the moment."
Despite the scrutiny and media attention, Goretzka remains level-headed, emphasizing his commitment to staying focused and performing consistently throughout his career. His ability to adapt and deliver across various positions highlights his importance to Bayern's success this season.
As Bayern's midfield dynamo continues to defy expectations, Goretzka's journey from midfield maestro to defensive linchpin adds a new layer to his football narrative, solidifying his status as a key player for both club and country.