Ever since he broke onto the global scene in the FIFA World Cup of 2010, Thomas Muller has become a rather unique player. He’s never been the most flashy competitor but he’s proven to be a hardworking and underrated performer. Someone who calls himself Raumdeuter (interpreter of space), he’s made the role his own over the years. His recent new contract at Bayern Munich was a deserved cherry on the cake.
Like it has always been for him, Muller has enjoyed another impressive season for the Bavarians. And as always, he’s done that without seeking much spotlight. While the likes of Robert Lewandowski, Serge Gnabry and even Thiago often take a lot of the attention, Muller has done the chance creation job perfectly.
The 30-year-old attacking midfielder did become the subject of speculation earlier in the season. It was felt that he was falling below his best and was past his prime. Prior to that, the club had been looking to strengthen in not just the defensive midfield position, but also in the attacking midfield position. This led to the signature of Philippe Coutinho on loan from Barcelona- a move that hasn’t gone quite well.
But just when everyone thought Muller’s time at the Allianz Arena is up, he’s back doing what he does best. So far, the German has contributed to as many as 29 goals in 36 games in all competitions. It has been one of his best seasons in years, leading to him getting deserved praise from many.
The campaign has seen him pick up an Expected Assists per 90 minutes tally of 0.54– meaning that he’s been expecting to assist in at least one of the two games. This is better than his tally last season when his non-penalty XG plus XA per 90 minutes metric stood at only 0.63. While that isn’t usually enough, that has risen to 0.93 per 90 minutes this season. In other words, Muller is expected to come up with a goal contribution at least once per game.
He’s come back to his creative best, having created 3.47 chances per 90 minutes so far. He has contributed to 16.4 percent of the club’s chances, proving crucial to Lewandowski’s goals. He’s stood true to his nickname, as he’s relied more on space finding to create than to dribbling and finding space. Rightly so, he has completed only 0.40 dribbles per 90 minutes.
That is very much a definition of his approach to playing. He won’t get on the ball and stick too much to it. As a result, he’s come up with the second-highest number of through balls per 90 minutes- 2.17. He’s also come up with the second-best tally of smart passes per 90 minutes, with his tally at 2.69. He’s only behind Jadon Sancho in that regard, per Wyscout.
He’s only behind Angel di Maria when it comes to the highest key passes per 90 minutes in the top five European leagues. It shows why it isn’t about the Bundesliga. He’s been an influential player all across Europe as well. And considering his unique approach to play, he’s certainly been dominating the charts and doing very well.
He’s been in impressive form in multiple games this season. And while the season hasn’t exactly been the most one-sided one in the Bundesliga, he has kept going since the season began. But he came into his own in 2020, when he picked up four assists in two games. This helped Bayern win consecutive games by 4-0 margins with one coming against Borussia Dortmund.
He’s not the most flamboyant of stars at all and neither are his celebrations too social media-friendly. But after a brief disappointing spell, he’s emerged as the solution to Bayern’s number ten worries. If anyone deserves a new contract, it is him.