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Thomas Müller: the underappreciated asset of Bayern Munich's season

The 24-year-old German international is Bayern Munich's leader in scoring and assisting. Yet he's not really talked about.


On Friday, Bayern Munich stalwart Thomas Müller gave an interview with the FC Bayern team website. He talked about the role he plays for Guardiola, the importance of players like Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben, and his hopes at winning more silverware this season. Tucked in amongst the typical professional athlete answers were one highly illuminating nugget:

"I know how to maintain my physical momentum. I look after my body, I take breaks when I need them and I structure my private life so that my body can cope with the stress and strain. Elite athletes can't go out partying in the middle of the season. And once you're out on the field you have to get stuck in. Nothing bad happens if you get in properly. These are the things I watch out for, and it's gone very, very well so far. Obviously the physique given you by nature plays a big role too."

It was a statement that makes sense given the workload Thomas Müller has shouldered since his explosion onto the world state in late 2009. But this season has been a season marked by the incredible depth present in Pep Guardiola's side. Yet amongst that all, Thomas Müller has suprisingly already accumulated 30 appearances and over 2200 minutes for Bayern Munich. A number that vastly outstrips all other attacking midfielders with the exception of Toni Kroos.

Bayern Munich just passed the midway point of their season. It's been a dominant season as Bayern Munich has banked a grand total of 27 wins, 2 draws, and 2 losses. It's been a season defined by the emergence of Toni Kroos as one of the  best midfielders in the world's game; a season defined by Mario Götze's nearly €40M addition to Bayern Munich; as well as a season defined by the highest expectations following the first treble in German club history.  Among it all though, Thomas Müller, Bayern Munich's steadfast world-class jack-of-all-trades has put together his most stunning season yet.

It's been easy to forget him this season. The increasing reliance on possession and short passing under Pep Guardiola has fit directly into his skillset, while also simultaneously not really challenging the 24-year-old to really step up his game the way Jupp Hyenckes challenged him down the stretch last season. In many ways, it been a tactical step back for the German.

But even just looking at the most basic of stats tell a different story. Thomas Müller is the leading scorer on this squad with 17 goals and 11 assists to his name; and it's only the halfway point of the season. Last season Thomas Müller only put up 23 goals and 17 assists for Bayern Munich (ha...only). He's on pace to absolutely shatter those numbers this season. Extrapolating this pattern out and it show that Thomas Müller is on pace for a 30 goal, 20 assist season, in probably about the quietest manner possible. When was the last time a player was on pace for that much impact on any team, yet at the same time was virtually ignored?

It's the fact that Pep Guardiola has used him in every attacking position this season that's the most illuminating information regarding the German international. He's played in roles ranging from right attacking midfield(both inverted and winger) to the false 10 to the CAM to the striker to the false 9 to the left attacking midfielder. He has played every position and role Pep Guardiola has asked from his attacking midfielders this season and he has done it with understatement and aplomb.

While the season has been partially defined by injuries which have allowed Thomas Müller to rack up the minutes and the stats, it's clear that he's quite possibly the player who actually makes Bayern Munich the most effective this season.

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