As Bayern Munich celebrated its eight consecutive Meisterschale yesterday, the jubilation on the pitch — and in the locker room — was evident in both the grizzled veterans and fresh-faced youngsters.
One player who certainly soaked in the Paulaner with the victory was Thomas Müller, who came this close to leaving Bavaria according to a report from Sport Bild (print edition). Per the German outlet, former club president Uli Hoeness stepped in to prevent Müller from leaving the club last fall.
In October, Niko Kovac showed no interest in utilizing the 30-year-old club legend, paving the way for the player to look for an exit.
“If there is a need, he will certainly get his minutes,” Kovac said at the time. It was certainly a statement that helped seal the coach’s own fate.
One of the many questionable decisions that Kovac made during his tenure was to consistently — and inexplicably — push Müller behind players like James Rodriguez and Philippe Coutinho over the past two seasons. Mediocre performances from both Rodriguez and Coutinho ultimately hurt the squad and ultimately played a part in costing Kovac his job.
Given the lack of appreciation by Kovac, Müller had decided to leave the club before Hoeness made one of his last, great moves for Bayern Munich in spearheading an effort to veto a potential transfer. Bild writes,
Hoeneß (68) stepped in to persuade Müller to stay in coordination with CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge (64) and sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic (43). The ex-president vetoed a sale.
Bild does not reveal Müller’s potential destination, but the Raumdeuter was previously linked to clubs in both England and Italy over the past three years. Since then, Müller has re-asserted his role as a vital cog in the Bayern Munich machine under Hansi Flick. He has registered an incredible tally of 11 goals and 24 assists in 43 games across competitions this season and has unquestionably been one of the squad’s most important figures this season.
Despite the many reasons he had to leave this club at the time, Hoeness helped Muller see the benefits of staying with Bayern Munich. It ultimately paid off for the team and player alike. Another championship where Müller was a central figure, along with a well-deserved contract extension through 2023, might finally soothe the pain endured by Müller during the rocky tenures of both Carlo Ancelotti and Kovac, both of whom failed to see the value in one of the world’s most creative and unselfish attacking players.