Bayern Munich have been crowned champions of Germany for the eighth consecutive season; this could be Thomas Muller‘s best season yet.
Muller, a Germany and Bundesliga legend, is unquestionably one of the most consistent and versatile players in world football. He can neither be classified purely as a centre forward, a winger, nor an attacking midfielder but he just gets the job done.
Is This Thomas Muller’s Best Season Yet?
Over time, Muller’s playing position has been a source of debate and in 2017, while speaking to Sport Bild, he stated:
“I don’t enjoy being classed a striker, I don’t see myself as one. I like to be active in the space in behind the opposition’s midfield. That’s where I can hurt the opponent the most of all. I’m a mix between a striker and a midfielder. I’m a Raumdeuter. It’s about instincts.”
A Raumdeuter can be translated as ‘space interpreter’. This is a player who more often than not looks for pockets of space while reading the play, rather than actively push towards the ball to influence the game.
His ability to read and interpret the game while aligning in positions that appear harmless makes him one of the deadliest players to tame.
He often waits for the perfect moment to get the ball, before releasing that defence-splitting pass or taking a dangerous attempt on goal.
He might not be the most skilful, fastest or fanciest of footballers, but basic movement and intelligence are his forte.
The Hansi Flick Switch
Bayern’s start to the 2019/20 Bundesliga campaign, led by Niko Kovac, saw Muller struggle to perform. Regularly finding himself on the bench, he made just three starts under the Croatian. He recorded four assists and failed to find the back of the net in eleven appearances.
However, the appointment of Hansi Flick in September appears to have flicked a magic wand in Muller’s direction. The German has been on a non-stop sensational form; so far he has contributed seven goals and sixteen assists in 21 games under Flick.
A Silent Assassin
The Bayern Munich vice-captain has been criticized for losing his goal-scoring touch over time, but his creative abilities have been hugely underappreciated.
In his twelve seasons in the Bundesliga, the German international has recorded double-digits assist numbers on eight occasions with no fuss or flamboyance.
His goal-scoring threat might have taken a dive, but his vision and playmaking abilities are one of the most outstanding across Europe; his creative powers pose a threat to any opposition.
With twenty assists this season, Muller leads the Bundesliga assists charts this season. He has already equalled the League’s all-time assist record, held by former Wolfsburg man Kevin De Bruyne. He also tops the list for most assists in Europe’s top five leagues with twenty assists.
Muller’s Best Season Yet?
Over the years, Thomas Muller has evolved from an outright goalscorer to a more complete and well-rounded forward.
This season, the Raumdeuter is having his career-best goal involvement per 90 minutes ratio.
He averages a goal or an assist every 82 minutes. In addition, he has 33 key passes and an xA of 0.50, creating 52 goal-scoring chances, spanning over 43 games in all competitions.
His 2013/14 and 2012/13 seasons come closest where he averaged 90 and 94 minutes per goal-involvement, respectively.
One might assume this is the most evolved and the best version of Thomas Muller so far.
In his 20 years as a professional, the 30-year-old forward has scored 195 goals and 160 assists in over 545 competitive appearances for club and country.
He has 25 major trophies under his belt; his trophy haul includes the FIFA World Cup, nine Bundesliga titles, five DFB Cups, and UEFA Champions League amongst others.
Last year, however, the World Cup winner was dropped from the German national team. But with his sensational performances this season and the Euros fast approaching, Muller has given Head Coach Joachim Löw reasons to question his decision.