December 22, 2017 / 10:57 AM / 4 months ago

Soccer: Striker Mario Gomez returns to 'home' club VfB Stuttgart

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany forward Mario Gomez left VfL Wolfsburg on Friday and returned to his former club VfB Stuttgart, signing a contract until 2020 and eyeing next year’s World Cup.

Football Soccer - VFL Wolfsburg v Eintracht Braunschweig - Bundesliga Relegation Playoff Match First Leg - Volkswagen Arena, Wolfsburg, Germany - 25/5/17 Wolfsburg's Mario Gomez scores their first goal from the penalty spot Reuters / Fabian Bimmer Livepic

The 32-year-old striker, who started his career at Stuttgart as a 16-year-old in 2001 and won the 2007 Bundesliga title with them, moved to Bayern Munich in 2009 for what was then a Bundesliga record fee of 35 million euros ($41.48 million).

He subsequently also played for Italy’s Fiorentina and Besiktas in Turkey.

But his 2016 return to the Bundesliga and Wolfsburg was not as successful as he had expected with the forward netting 19 goals in 52 matches in all competitions and the Wolves once more struggling in the lower half of the league table this season.

Promoted Stuttgart are two points behind Wolfsburg in 14th place with the Bundesliga resuming on Jan. 12 after a three-week winter break.

“I am happy to have come home, where everything started for me,” Gomez, who has won 71 caps for Germany, said in a club statement. “I know expectations will be high and it is a challenging situation.”

The 2011 Bundesliga top scorer is looking for more playing time as he looks to secure a spot on Germany’s World Cup team.

“Now it is all about staying in the league, playing a good second round and for me personally reaching the World Cup.”

($1 = 0.8438 euros)

Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; editing by Sudipto Ganguly

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