Buoyed by signing a new contract at Bayern Munich, Thomas Mueller will hit the heights once again at the World Cup for Germany.
Mueller made his breakthrough at the 2010 tournament in South Africa, winning the Golden Boot with five goals and three assists in just six games as part of Joachim Low’s vibrant, counter-attacking side.
Goals in the crushing, free-flowing victories against hapless England and Lionel Messi’s Argentina rapidly brought Mueller to the world’s attention. The 24-year-old also took home the Best Young Player award for his outstanding displays as Germany eventually finished third.
At club level, the tale of the tape certainly adds to an already impressive footballing CV. Mueller is just shy of a century of goals at Bayern, his only professional team, with 87 assists in 256 games revealing the real deal.
The Bavarian was in devastating form, particularly early on in the season, hitting a total of 13 goals in domestic competition for the Reds. Mueller actually made the most league appearances (31) among Pep Guardiola’s frenzied rotation of his troops at Bayern.
He played a lesser role toward the end of the season under Guardiola, which sparked transfer speculation. According to Express' Ben Jefferson, clubs of the calibre of Barcelona, Liverpool and Manchester United were all rumoured to be interested in acquiring his services.
United’s new boss, Louis van Gaal, coined the phrase (via Rheinische Post) “Mueller always plays” during his spell in charge in Munich from 2009 to 2011.
With his immediate club future settled, the Bavarian-born player can concentrate on sealing success with the national team.
In 49 international outings, Mueller has scored 17 goals and made the decisive pass leading to a goal 22 times.
He has been deployed in a variety of attacking roles, but Low likes to predominately use him to roam the right channel.
With the ageing Miroslav Klose (36) struggling to be fit, there is scope for Mueller to be used in the fashionable “false-nine” role, when Germany opt to play without an out-and-out striker. Here he could swap duties with his supremely talented Bayern colleague, Mario Gotze.
Lanky, rangy and awkward are some of the less flattering adjectives one might use to describe Mueller.
Mueller appointed himself the “Raumdeuter” (which means “space investigator” in German) in a 2011 interview with the Munich broadsheet SZ.
The finer arts of Mueller’s considerable talents were eloquently and brilliantly described by Barney Ronay of the Guardian:
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. The fact that Müller coined this term himself in a newspaper interview makes it even better. He's sidled in there, that sneaky Raumdeuter. He's found a niche and filled it with himself, no mean feat for a man who doesn't really look like a footballer at all but instead has an endearingly amateurish air, tousle‑haired and skinny-legged, like a junior doctor on a fun run.
Above all, Mueller possesses an uncanny knack of being in the right position at the right time—with a poacher’s instinct for goal.
Undoubtedly, these are attributes he shares with his namesake, the legendary striker Gerd.
Nicknamed “The Bomber,” Mueller scored 68 goals in just 62 games (1.1 per game) for West Germany—and was top scorer in the 1970 World Cup in Mexico with 10 goals.
Coincidentally, the two Muellers' don(ned) the famous No. 13 shirt for their country and starred together in a popular advertising campaign.
Thomas, the “space investigator,” can once again repel alien opposition in Brazil's final frontier.
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