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Müller, Klose, and Future Legends : Looking forward to find Germany's next legendary goalscorer

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Gerd Müller's record of 68 goals was equaled on Friday. Miroslave Klose will soon be the reigning champion. Who will be the next German goal scoring legend?

Thomas Niedermueller

On Friday, Miroslave Klose tied Gerd Müller's 35 year old record of 68 goals for the German national team. These past months and weeks have been an anticipatory buildup to that moment. The question was never if, but when Klose would tie and break that record. As sports fans, we are always looking forward. Looking forward to season when someone eclipses Ted Williams .406 batting average (this is baseball for anyone who doesn't know). Looking forward to when someone will top Alan Shearer's record of 260 goals in the Premier League or Gerd Müller's other record of 365 goals in the Bundesliga. So let's look forward to find the next great German goalscorer; a player who brings this tale full circle.

Unfortunately, detailed records of the minutes Gerhard Müller played in all his international competitions are very difficult are hard to find. What we do know is that he debuted with the West German national team in 1966 and played through the 1974 World Cup, amassing an amazing 68 goals in 62 total appearances. This level of scoring is nearly unheard of in the modern game. Assuming he went 90 minutes in each appearance (which he most likely didn't), this gives us an incredible 1.1 goals/90 minutes (G90).

Assessing the Current Great Goal Scorer

As incredible a feat as that is, let's take a look at the modern example of Miroslave Klose. Klose has amassed 68 goals for Germany 129 appearances and 8303 minutes; a line of .73 G90.

Furthermore, with the intricacies of the modern game, including the vast quality difference in competitions; ranging from matches against nations like the Faroe Islands to matches against Spain; it's is important to develop a more detailed understanding of against who, and when, and where Klose has built his portfolio. While Müller had a single decade to build his total, the 35 year old German international has had 13 years of service time for the national squad. This has taken him to three Euros and three World Cups, amongst the numerous friendlies to his credit as well.

Miroslav Klose

Euros

0.37

World Cup

0.84

Euro Qual.

0.83

World Cup Qual.

1.18

Friendlies

0.59

Avg.

0.74

Figure 1. Miroslave Klose's G90 by competition

From the rates, you can see that Miroslave Klose is a prolific goal scorer in major competitions. Small sample size considerations are a concern, but less so with Klose than with most other players given the massive body of work he has with the national team. Given that Klose still is an active member of the German national team and should be a major part of Jogi Low's through at least World Cup 2014 (before his announced international retirement), it behooves us look at the final expected goal tally for Klose's time as a striker for Die Mannschaft.

Using the previously established rate at which he has scored, and the game's most likely remaining in the German calendar we can project Klose's goal scoring up through World Cup 2014 under some assumptions (plays 90 minutes in all matches including 3 friendlies and advancing to the 2014 World Cup semifinals).

Miroslave Klose

2014 World Cup

6

2014 World Cup Qual.

4

Friendlies

2

Total

12

Fig. 2 MIroslave Klose; future goal projections

Adding these projected goals to those Klose has already netted leads to a final tally of 80 goals scored for his international career; a mark that far surpasses that of the legendary Gerd Muller.

Finding the Next Great German Scorer

As with all legends, the question is finding the next legend. Who will inexorably surpass the feats of those that came before? Often times that person does not exist yet. Or is still in diapers.

But among the German forwards and goal scorers, one lone young face stands out from the crowd. Players like Lukas Podolski and Mario Gomez stand out with tallies in the twenties and forties respectively. Yet they have seen their contribution to the national team squads dwindle this last year as they age and are replaced by some of Germany's best and brightest. However, peacefully behind them sits the form of Thomas Muller. The soon to be 24 year old (his birthday is Friday) made his senior international debut at the age of 20 and earned his way to being a starter and a huge cog in Germany's World Cup 2010 squad. A cog so important he was crowned the Golden Boot winner with 5 goals and 3 assists.

The 23 year old has already amassed a huge body of work to the tune of over 3000 senior team minutes. With his youth and already impressive pedigree, he represents a possible future heir to Klose's record. To that end, let us look at his work with the national team so far.

Thomas Muller

Euros

0

World Cup

0.96

Euro Qual.

0.33

World Cup Qual.

0.47

Friendlies

0.28

Avg.

0.39

Figure 3.Thomas Müller's G90 by competition

With Muller not having scored in Euro 2012 a G90 stat doesn't exist for that competition. From this point forward, I am going to assess all of this using Klose's G90. I feel comfortable doing this because 1) it's virtually identical to Muller's normal G90 2) It's a competition specific rating, rather than just using Muller's G90.

Muller's age 31 season is after Euro 2020 and will be the first benchmark for stopping our analysis. This is carried out under some assumptions as well ((plays 90 minutes in all matches including 5 friendlies per year, advancing to the World Cup and Euro semi-finals)

Thomas Muller

Euro 2016

3

Euro 2020

3

World Cup 2014

7

World Cup 2018

7

WCQ2018

5

Euro Qual. 2016

3

Euro Qual. 2020

3

Friendlies

10

World Cup Qual. 2014

1

Total

42

Figure 4. Thomas Muller; extrapolated goals scored through Euro 2020 and age 21 season

At that age, Thomas Muller projects to have accrued a total of 57 senior international goals; a figure below even Gerd Mullers mark. The hallmark of Klose's career has been his longevity and consistent performance and the fact that the 34 year old is still performing at such a high level is further testament to his skill. To that end, let's extend Muller out through his age 35 season, or after Euro 2024.

Thomas Muller

Euro 2024

2

Euro Qual. 2024

3

World Cup 2022

7

World Cup Qual. 2022

5

Friendlies

5

Total

22

Figure 5. Thomas Müller; extrapolated goals scored through Euro 2024; age 32-35 seasons

15+42+22. 79 goals. That's the goal projection for Thomas Muller given his current international performance rates under the specified conditions. Obviously, there are caveots to that projection and a hope for career longevity rivaling Klose, but we could already be watching the next great German goal scoring legend at work for the national squad.


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