Thomas Müller is one of the most, if not the most unique players in world football — even non-Bayern Munich or Bundesliga fans would tend to agree with that assessment. His uncanny ability to find open spaces to create chances for both himself and his teammates has earned him the nickname The Raumdeuter, and he has also been referred to as Radio Müller for his vocal nature on the pitch. In his recent column for Sky Germany, Lothar Matthäus even drew comparisons between Müller and the venerable Lionel Messi.
Müller and Messi are of almost entirely different builds, have different mannerisms, and aren’t exactly on the same plane of statistical production. Still, Matthäus recognized the ability both players have to consistently get into the perfect positions to make a difference — relying on sheer willpower and savvy rather than their physical edge.
“You can see just from the fact that Thomas Müller has to laugh when he misses a great chance, how much confidence he has in his own strength. It reminds me of Leo Messi, who often had to smile when he missed a hundred percent because he knew he’d make three more anyway,” Matthäus wrote in his column (Tz).
Müller’s miss just before the halftime break during Bayern’s 6-1 win over Eintracht Frankfurt on the opening night of the Bundesliga illustrates this point. Bayern was on a breakaway, but Serge Gnabry’s pass into Müller was just a little bit too far ahead of him. Müller hit the turf after stretching out to make contact with the pass and his effort hit off the post and went out of play for a goal kick — careening off his own head on the way. It was the most Müller of chances, and would have been the most Müller of goals.
Such a miss would never deter a man like Müller — who ended up with a brace of assists en route to an emphatic three points at Deutsche Bank Park. And last weekend against VfL Wolfsburg, after having spent most of his day on the right wing, Müller popped up in front of goal at just the right time — to stick a foot out and deflect Joshua Kimmich’s long range effort into the net for Bayern’s second goal of the night.
Ironically enough, Müller has found himself on the winning end of head-to-heads against Messi for both club and country, the most recent of which came in the Champions League group stages last season. Bayern won both matches 3-0 and Müller scored a goal in each of those legs.
All things considered, there’s no player quite like Müller, and his presence in attack always adds a creative spark. He is every bit as talismanic for Bayern and for Germany as the Argentinian maestro.