This summer will bring up four years since the name Thomas Mueller originally began being whispered outside of Bavaria, but could it also be the summer that the German international decides his future lies away from Bavaria?
It’s a bizarre link which has sprung up from nowhere, however it is also one which throws up some questions about Mueller.
Questions like: How has he managed to evade being linked with any other club since his big emergence at the World Cup in 2010? How would he fit into a Madrid attack alongside the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale?
Mueller has primarily played on the right side for Pep Guardiola this season, although he has been used flexibly. The 24-year-old has also been used, on more than a couple of occasions, as a false nine, while he’s made fleeting appearances in the middle and on the left of midfield.
Carlo Ancelotti, if indeed he does want Mueller, would presumably use him flexibly too.
One line of thought would be to move Bale to the left, Ronaldo to the middle and fit Mueller in on the right; except playing Ronaldo through the middle doesn’t seem to carry much appeal to the player or his manager.
Much more likely would be to play Mueller as the team’s false nine, perhaps with Isco off him and Ronaldo and Bale flanking him.
He’s scored 16 goals in all competitions this season, but it’s unlikely to be solely his goal threat which interests Madrid. The Guardian’s Barney Ronay wrote an interesting piece of prose praising Mueller’s ability to find space last season, and it’s that which could be raising Ancelotti’s eyebrow:
His special power is to find space, space invisible to the non-Raumdeuter, and spread into it like a plume of smoke, or a form of insidious footballing dry rot. This is what he produced against Juventus, a frictionless occupation by stealth, always moving – if not moving that much – in search of the single most vital commodity in elite modern football: space, the final and, in fact, pretty much only, frontier.
As well as scoring goals, he’s also created 10 for his colleagues and, if he was indeed available at a certain price, there would surely be plenty of clubs interested in acquiring his services.
The other questions are less flattering to Real Madrid: Why would Bayern sell him? Why would he leave the European Champions?
Mundo Deportivo’s article itself admits that any deal will have to conquer plenty of obstacles. The relationship between Madrid and Bayern isn’t the best, so it’s unlikely the Germans will be particularly willing to send Mueller to the Spanish capital.
Not least because Mueller has played a vital role in the club’s elevation over recent seasons and continues to do so under Guardiola.
Also, is he the player that Madrid really need?
While he would fit in to an attacking quartet featuring Bale and Ronaldo, would Los Blancos’ needs be better suited to finding a No. 9? Or perhaps another creative attacking midfielder to take the burden off Isco, although Mueller could realistically be tried as a No. 10.
Either way, the obstacles in any Mueller deal appear greater than Madrid’s need for the talented player and, with other players likely to be more available, Florentino Perez’s money may be better spent elsewhere this summer.