Why Thomas Müller is the most underrated player of his generation


Throughout various lists mentioning the greatest forwards in the world, the likes of Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar, Luis Suarez, Sergio Aguero, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic are always mentioned. Sure, Messi and Ronaldo play at a level above the rest, but the rest of these forwards are no better than Thomas Müller. In fact, Müller has scored 10 World Cup goals in just 13 matches, which is two more than Ronaldo and Messi combined. Obviously, Germany have a better team than Portugal and Argentina, but this comparison shows how good Müller truly is. In a generation of flashy, quick players like Neymar, Müller’s style of play is certainly different from the rest of the forwards in the highest caliber of the game.

Compared to speed demons like Gareth Bale and pure tricksters like Neymar, Thomas Müller often looks ungainly and his build is rather lanky. Overall, he may be the best player in the world in terms of finding and exploiting space, which has seen him consistently tally around 20 goals and 15 assists for Bayern Munich for the past four seasons. In fact, people in Germany have even named a position after him, “the raumdeuter”, which means space interpreter. The name makes sense because Müller’s biggest asset is his football IQ. Müller always provides a superb outlet for the ball and creates chances from either flank he plays on, which is usually the right side. Müller confuses defenses with his runs, which opens up the space for the players near him. Often times, he drifts out of the game, only to pop up in the right space, unnoticed, and either score or assist on a goal. His style does not seek attention from others, but definitely gets the job done.

While Müller has often played off of the right side, another one of his key assets is his versatility. When he first broke into the Bayern Munich first team in the 2009-2010 season, Müller operated in the No. 10 role behind Ivica Olic in Bayern’s 4-2-3-1 formation. He became a starter in his first season, beating competition from both Mario Gomez and Miroslav Klose to keep his place in the team. The very next season, Müller started getting deployed on the right side, where he played during the 2010 World Cup. In Bayern’s treble-winning season, Müller started the season on the right side, and his incredible form saw Arjen Robben sit on the bench. In the second half of the season, Toni Kroos sustained an injury. Müller shifted back into the No. 10 position, and was flanked by Robben and Franck Ribery – a trio which led Bayern to the treble. Over the past season, under Pep Guardiola, Müller has often played as the lone striker. He has often played as a sort of false nine, linking up plays together and finding space to score goals.

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