Bayern Munich’s Jamal Musiala is one of the most talented youngsters in the world. And it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that he’s also one of the best attackers on this Bayern side on any given day. Yes, he’s still very young and may need to develop his physique a bit, but he’s already getting frequent first-team starts, and may very well displace a senior player from the champagne XI. In fact, some even believe that Bayern’s champagne XI would currently have Musiala in it, and it’s pretty hard to argue against that.
With many touting the phenom to be Thomas Müller’s eventual replacement, fans have been expecting the player to start more often at the attacking midfield spot either as a substitute or occasionally ahead of Müller. That hasn’t happened, however, and we’ve ended up seeing Musiala in a range of positions: at the #8, on the wings, and sometimes as a late attacking midfield substitute. I believe that we need to stop shuffling him around the attack and midfield because we already have a position where he can get good minutes — the wings.
And then you’ll ask, “But, but...there are three wingers (four, if you include Sadio Mané) potentially ahead of “Moose” in the pecking order, so how would this be feasible?” Well, for starters, Serge Gnabry is more or less on his way out. That leaves us with three wingers, one of whom is injury prone (Kingsley Coman), one who doesn’t look in great form at the moment (Leroy Sané), and another who might start for us as a #9 too, depending on whether Robert Lewandowski stays or leaves.
Even in the scenario where Gnabry AND Lewa stay, Musiala would still be above Gnabry in the pecking order for me. He is also bound to get loads of minutes since he can play on both wings equally well (not a one-wing merchant like Sané) and is a terrifying winger substitute, who can change games on his own. His dribbling and close control remind me of Franck Ribéry, while his vision is reminiscent of Müller’s. Musiala could interchange places with other Bayern attackers in what could be a superfluid attacking setup. And the youngster might well be the “game changer” winger we’ve been looking for since Robbery hung up their boots.
Don’t get me wrong, Coman and Sané are world-class, and Mané is currently a top 5 in the world attacker, but I firmly believe Musiala’s ceiling can be something else. And I’d like to see that happen in the wing role, a position that’s very prone to injuries and inconsistency.
So why NOT the attacking midfield role? Well, because, for starters, Thomas Müller always starts. This is an unwritten rule for both Bayern and Germany, but a rule nonetheless, and one that works wonders. Yes, the man needs a breather every now and then, but will those minutes be enough for a player who is at an important stage of his development? Besides, I feel that Bayern has a plethora of campus youngsters who can take the baton from the Raumdeuter: Paul Wanner, Arijon Ibrahimovic, and dare I say, Lovro Zvonarek. Of the trio, Wanner seems the candidate closest to a “post-Müller succession plan”, and is a player with tremendous vision and passing ability.
Bayern’s team can definitely be helped by having the best individual pieces together to make a functional whole, if possible. Since Wanner isn’t great as a winger but is superb as an AM, playing Musiala on the wing and Wanner at the #10 will solve both problems and give us the very best in both positions. The whole would definitely be better than the sum of its parts, in that case.
And finally, “why not the midfield?” is yet another potential question, but this one’s easier to address. We already have four great midfielders: Joshua Kimmich, Leon Goretzka, Ryan Gravenberch, and Marcel Sabitzer. Bayern is currently also looking to sign Konrad Laimer. And unlike the wing positions, time is scarce in the midfield, what with Kimmich eating up almost all the minutes at the #6, and Goretzka taking a large chunk of the minutes at the #8. With Gravenberch and Sabi in the fray, it would be nigh impossible to give Musiala anything worth his while.
Bayern needs a team where there are multiple players fresh and ready to steady the ship in case of injuries or fatigue. Frequent rotation is necessary, and that is why all four midfielders need a healthy share of the minutes. Musiala just cannot join that group, because a) midfield isn’t CLOSE to his best position, and b) there just won’t be any time left with all the competition for the two spots.
But playing Musiala on the wings will fix a majority of the issues in the attack. First, we’d have a winger whose pace and dribbling ability are second to none, and a player who could change games on his own from the position. I can bet that with frequent starts, he’d deliver 30g/a across all competitions every season. That’s his caliber. Second, the midfield minutes wouldn’t have to be reshuffled, and Nagelsmann could even try 2 separate combos: Kimmetzka, and Grabitzer. And third, Müller wouldn’t have to be benched. At least, not to give Musiala minutes.
So yeah, ideally, Musiala should be a Bayern winger. We’ll have to wait and see what Nagelsmann has in store for the player, though. What do y’all think? Is Musiala best suited to the wings or elsewhere? Let us know in the comments!