As Manuel Neuer nears a contract extension, the future of other veterans from 2013 in the current Bayern Munich team has come into question, namely attacking-midfielder Thomas Müller and defensive-midfielder Javi Martinez. Both players have contracts due to run out in 2021 and Kicker has information that no concrete talks with the club have taken place yet.
Given that Neuer’s new deal is in negotiation and the fact that Germany’s best goalkeeper is two years older than the Spaniard and three years older than his compatriot Müller, it’s odd that contracts haven’t been offered to these younger players.
Javi Martinez: possibly on his way out?
In recent seasons, Martinez has played sparingly. He’s still shown himself to be useful against tough opposition, but his performances have been paradoxically worse the more Bayern is superior to a team. The Spaniard’s main strengths lie without the ball, while his limitations appear when he has it. This is perhaps why he no longer features regularly for the Bavarians, despite good performances.
In truth, however, Martinez’ best days seem to be behind him. His slow, lateral passing often disrupts the rhythm of attacks and leaves the team limited in the central midfield. In addition, Martinez’ ever slowing speed has caused problems when he’s played, in contrast to younger, faster player like Leon Goretzka. Javi’s excellent football intelligence, awareness and anticipation partly make up for his older legs, but they do not recapture the fully mobile destroyer that played in 2013.
As a result of his declining abilities, Martinez has found himself low down in the pecking order. Leon Goretzka, Corentin Tolliso, Thiago (virtually a guaranteed starter), Joshua Kimmich, Thomas Müller, and Phillipe Coutinho are all ahead of him in the list of the three starting midfielders. Martinez has declined to comment on his current situation, but he can hardly be happy about, and there were rumors in the summer that he might rejoin Athletic Bilbao. All of this makes his contract situation understandable and makes him a likely causality of next year’s transfer window. Whether that’s the correct decision or not, it sure looks like it’s coming.
Thomas Müller: a veteran with still much to offer
The former German international has made a bright start to the season, making 4 goal involvements during Bayern’s first 5 fixtures, all 4 of these contributions coming in his last 89 minutes on the pitch. The raumdeuter still has a lot to offer at the upper echelons of the game and, disappointingly, also has something to prove.
Unlike Martinez, Müller still displays the same physical attributes which have been with him his entire career. Moreover, Müller’s trademark runs into the box seem as effective as ever and his presence alone is often the catalyst for the Bayern’s attacking machine to go into full throttle. Even if not as a starter, Bayern should look to retain Müller to be a valuable option on the bench, where his qualities are further exemplified after coming on —as a result of larger spaces left open by defenses and weaker concentration levels.
However, the arrival of the esteemed Brazillian, Phillipe Coutinho, may have complicated Müller’s contract renewal. Coach Niko Kovac’s unwillingness to play both play-makers at the same time has meant that both established stars have spent considerable amounts of time on the bench. Coutinho’s signing echoes the signing of James Rodriguez two seasons ago, and Müller himself may feel upset at the constant battle he’s had to keep his place in the team. His uncertain contract situation raises the question of whether Müller might be interested in a future elsewhere.
Personally, I think Müller will be offered a new contract in the near future, since he is still important to Bayern on and off the field. Even as a super-sub or leader behind the scenes, Müller’s impact at the club is too significant to ignore. Let’s see what the future holds.