At the team’s winter training camp in Doha, Bayern Munich manager Julian Nagelsmann gave an update on where he sees mainstay Thomas Müller in his squad. The venerable Bavarian veteran has long had fans lining up to place him on a pedestal, but he hasn’t had an easy time of it this season — dating all the way back to the September international break.
Müller’s lengthy absences and his muted performances for Germany — in the #9 role, no less — at the Men’s World Cup have led to some critics of the Raumdeuter to come out of the woodworks. Is it time to address the elephant in the room? Is Müller’s time as an indispensable right-hand-man of whoever happens to be the Bayern manager over?
Not so fast, says Nagelsmann.
“Thomas is an important player for Bayern and for me,” Nagelsmann declared at his Sunday presser (via @iMiaSanMia). “He gives a lot of assists and is very creative. Thomas is making a very good impression. We have so many games and we need every player. I’m firmly planning with him. We need him and we’re glad he’s back.”
And the Bayern trainer even tipped the German legend for continuing in the striker role. Müller may be the very model of a modern shadow striker, but according to his coach, those bloodthirsty lurking instincts translate as long as he’s put in dangerous positions near the goal.
“Thomas can play as No. 10 and as a striker,” Nagelsmann continued. “He can play more positions, but those two suit him the most. He has an important central role because he is very creative. He will probably play in either of these two positions.”
In Nagelsmann’s evolving 4-2-2-2 setup this season, that puts Müller in a central rotation that includes Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, Jamal Musiala, and Ryan Gravenberch with plenty of games to play in both the Bundesliga and the Champions League. And let’s keep in mind, the man had just begun working his way back at the World Cup from a lengthy spell on the sidelines. The scrutiny may be getting harder, but Müller is hungry as always — and there’s plenty of reason to think he’ll rise to the occasion in the second half of the season.