First of all, this article is not entirely about Thomas Muller's play style, his stats, what he does for the team etc.... This will be covered however the true purpose of the post is about the symbol he is, how he embodies Mia San Mia and the idea (not the player) of 'Thomas Muller'.
Play style, on field performance and recognition
He isn't particularly extraordinary in most aspects of the beautiful game, be it dribbling, shooting, passing (underrated but not world class), running (some have described his technique as akin to Giraffe's) and defending.
Although, there is 1 thing he excels at. Finding space. Muller has built a reputation on his ability to exploit space. This has been used to great effect over the years for Bayern and Germany. Many articles written by the great writers on BFW have described his impact, with Bayern scoring a whopping 34% extra goals when Muller is on the field as opposed to when he's off the turf. He's led Bayern in assists in 4/6 of the past seasons!
It's fitting that he's such a unique player given his normality in the everyday world. He's created his own position the 'raumdeuteur' or 'space investigator'. This has been adopted by the likes of Jose Callejon (A wide forward/winger for Napoli, who makes runs to draw out and confuse defense. Players like Allan and Insigne try to find these runs, but also benefit from the added space as a result of them)and Deli Alli (who plays for Tottenham as a SS and like Callejon makes runs which draw out defenders. His physical ability is significant as he can score headers and bully the opposition)
Muller plays by drifting in between spaces and constantly making runs. These runs are effective as they provide extra space for teammates, while also adding a passing option into a dangerous scenario. Thus when Muller is in the side, the players around him improve.
Many observers don't understand Muller and what he does. Those observers say he's grossly overrated (Around the 'pool game, a fox sports commentator described Muller's absence as a "blessing in disguise", I was outraged by this as Muller was the biggest reason we didn't show attacking intent across the 2 legs) due to his unique style. Pep Guardiola has described Muller as losing the ball the most in the Bayern team and contributing least to the buildup yet still being a "prestigiously talented footballer".
This lack of recognition he recieves is partly due to the fact that there are no metrics that can truly quantify Muller's performance in a game. Unlike a Messi or Ronaldo, Muller's game isn't fully shown through goals and assists. Although respectable with 1 goal/assist every 130 minutes in all competitions (much higher than i.e Pogba who without penalties averages a goal every 240 minutes in all competitions and some people think he's had a great season...and Pogba makes the players around him worse...) these 'goal involvement' stats don't show the full picture. How much space and the quality of space created etc... cannot be measured.
Even when Muller finished 5th and 6th consecutively in the Ballon D'or (Some people judge players by this...), he was never given the respect he deserved or mentioned in the same breath as players at similar rankings. Thierry Henry has said "I don't understand why Thomas Muller is not there" when talking about the Ballon D'or top 3.
Although Muller has had a relatively unprolific season, he is arguably even more important than he ever was to the Bayern side. His deeper position and lack of luck has contributed to this.
Muller will probably never gain the full respect he deserves, but he is a genius on the field with a skillset and play style, the world will never see again...
What Muller represents
Thomas Muller is statistically the most common name in Germany, he represents the ultimate average guy. The John Smith of Germany. Muller has a regular haircut, a lanky frame, yet this is a top level professional footballer. He gives the typical person the ability to dream, as anything is possible if 'Thomas Muller' is a world class player.
He lacks the pretentiousness of modern footballers and this is shown through his unique answers in interviews (saying hi to his grandparents at his first world cup on live tv), whereas many other footballers just give the same old, generic response. Unlike many players, the average Joe can relate to Muller, and T.Henry has called Muller 'Football's greatest role model'
In addition, he is indicative of the ultimate team player. Under the dark Carlo days when Muller was finding goals hard to come by, a moment which captured his selflessness was setting up his team mate (Alaba) for a goal, when he could have easily scored. He puts the team in front of himself, unlike Lewandowski (for example) and his famous 'scowl' when players don't pass to him. Muller always looks for the pass before the shot, sometimes to his detriment.
What Muller is to the fans
Simply put, Bayern Munich fans adore Thomas Muller. He is a voice of the people and 'just another fan' (albeit one that plays for the team). His connection with the fans has been shown when leading chants with the loud speaker after winning the Bl and is so strong because he is one of them. When Bayern annually draw the random fanclubs in November which will get visited by players and staff, the most desired person is always Muller.
When Bayern received a world record transfer offer from Manchester United for Muller in 2015, they didn't even think of accepting it. German analyst Raf Honigstein (who often works for ESPN and covers the topic of Germany football and Bayern Munich) speculated there would be riots in the streets of Munich, if Muller was sold. He grew up in Bavaria and could probably stake a claim as the state's favourite son. Such is the admiration for Muller. His never give up attitude and relentless running is glorious. He leads the press and inspires the fans to cheer louder for the team.
Fans can relate to his grounded personality, unlike many players he doesn't care for slick haircuts, tattoos or fast cars. And, the fact he came through the clubs youth academy further endears him to the fans . However, he pays close attention to charity work, especially as a representative of a charity that helps children after the loss of a loved one.
Mia San Mia
We are who we are, the moto of Bayern Munich. Muller is the living embodiment of Bayern's values. This was shown when Muller, responding to a reporters question about there being pressure to adopt a more 'football like' universal look said, "even if there would be pressure, I would be able to withstand it" and "I try not to pretend to be something i'm not", literally the definition of Mia San Mia. He stays true to his roots and we love him for this!
As a local boy who grew up watching games at the Olympiastadion he knows what it means to be at Bayern and his one club status (very irregular in the modern game) is a testament to his Mia San Mia values. It's so important for Muller to be in the squad as it teaches other players at Bayern, to embody the Bayern values, to be true to their selves, to never give up (one thing the 'workhorse' would never do) and to have a laugh doing it. Muller is like Ronaldinho, always smiling and gracious to be in the position he finds himself.
This idea of a 'Thomas Muller' is so crucial because of everything listed above. He is the face of Bayern Munich. He stands for Bayern Munich. He lives by Bayern Munich. He plays for Bayern Munich wearing the badge proudly on his vest.
We salute you Thomas! Mia San Mia