Bundesliga.com has a nice spotlight on our beloved Bambi — that’s Mr. Jamal Musiala to you — comparing his performance and statistics in different positions at Bayern Munich. The 19-year-old who was poached from Chelsea FC as a youth has cemented his status as an important player for both Bayern and Germany. He has also seen his role evolve over the years, including most intriguingly an experiment deep in central midfield as a ‘six’ this past Spring.
We thought we’d pose the question to you, though much has been written on this topic from our side before:
But it’s curious to note that it’s not even so clear where Musiala is playing currently! Here at BFW, at least, we’ve been marking down this year’s formation as a 4-2-2-2 with Musiala as one of two attacking midfielders — but by some accounts, including Bundesliga.com’s, it’s an inverting left wing. Different websites have been reporting Bayern’s lineups differently as well, with sofascore calling it a 4-2-3-1 against VfL Wolfsburg.
Personally, I think Musiala defies definition a little bit and is melding his own tendencies perfectly with those of his head coach’s. Julian Nagelsmann likes direct, vertical football played down the half-spaces and Musiala is excellent in traffic, on the turn, and in the box.
His trial run as a six appeared to help him especially with his feel for the game by requiring him to pick up the ball deep and rely on his vision and smarts rather than only his tricky feet. The result of that has been the evolution of a superstar who can really do it all — a whirling, goal-scoring dervish who senses space and contributes defensively.
When Musiala roams up and down the inside left of the pitch, it’s hard to figure out exactly what to call him. Central midfielder, attacking midfielder, even inverted winger all have their merits.
For me, he’s still playing as one of the tens in attacking midfield — both for club and country, based on this June’s Nations League games — and his ability to drop deep centrally fits in perfectly with the left-sided asymmetry in both setups.
It’s like there is a left-sided creative eight who is also a goal threat, helping his striker-less teams score while also making their two-man midfields a de facto midfield three. With Alphonso Davies and David Raum as left-backs, there is already width on the left in each case; so too with Sadio Mané and Timo Werner, forwards who are happy to switch out to the left wing.
And of course, there is his partner in crime on both teams, Thomas Müller — in the original Raumdeuter, and in many ways his predecessor. Müller also cut a gangly figure, running about with a frenzied energy in a position that was hard to nail down while shipping goals and assists in bulk. Bayern will hope they’ve managed to strike gold twice.
In any case, whatever you want to call it, Musiala is bossing it out there. And it’s increasingly hard to imagine any Bayern or Germany lineup without him.
What do you think? Where should Musiala play, and is it any different than how he’s being used now?