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Thomas Müller on Coutinho: what’s important is that we have a top team every three days

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Thomas Müller brushed off speculation that he might view Coutinho as a threat. Müller emphasized that Coutinho makes Bayern better, and if he brings back a 10 to Kovac’s system, all the better!

Vilshofen Rot Weiss v FC Bayern Muenchen
Better together. From Bayern’s friendly match against Vilshofen Rot-Weiss, August 25, 2019.
Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty Images

Bayern Munich’s Thomas Müller was in good spirits laughing away pointed questions about new signee Philippe Coutinho and emphasizing the importance of the new signing to the team beyond his own personal interests. Müller gave the media a candid commentary about the rampant speculation about his supposed rivalry with Coutinho over playing time, positions, and status as a starter (below, as recorded by Sport1’s Stefan Kumberger):

I could have practically set my clock to the news. Of course, when Philippe Coutinho is signed — where there’s a new signing those are totally normal headlines that are first about the new signing. But we’ll then see everything that happens in the coming weeks. And what’s important is that we have a squad that is equal to all its tasks. And I know it’s always a lot of fun to philosophize over the individual players. That somehow is the “salt in the soup” off the pitch. For us as a team, what’s important is that we have a top team every three days and win games, and accordingly it [i.e. the talk] goes away again.

*The “salt in the soup”: German proverb describing a small ingredient that makes the whole dish flavorful.

Müller was asked an excellent follow-up question that attempted to pin him down on whether he or Coutinho would play the 10 position behind the striker — “In most systems, there is usually only one man behind the forwards,” the journalist asked, implying that Müller and Coutinho would be at odds for that position. Müller replied,

But the positive for me could be that there now is a position behind the forwards again. You can see it that way too!

In Niko Kovac’s latest system, Bayern has used a three-man midfield with one 6 and two 8’s, one of them Müller. Müller performed reasonably well against Hertha Berlin in the opener, but he and Serge Gnabry at right wing ahead of him were fairly anonymous in the second match, against Schalke 04 — although Schalke’s bunker-like tactics and unanticipated replacements undoubtedly had something to do with it.