Bayern Munich manager Carlo Ancelotti has responded to ongoing speculation regarding Thomas Muller's future, telling reporters the forward's frustration with a lack of playing time is understandable.
Muller hasn't been a regular starter this season, and Ancelotti understands how that can be frustrating:
“Thomas Muller is fit, in good shape and can play tomorrow. I thank everyone for their opinions but I don’t need any clues.
“I speak everyday with Thomas. It’s normal that a player is not happy if he sits on the bench. It was the same with me as [a] player.
“Every player has to give the best. I know Thomas’ qualities but I can’t guarantee anyone's place, this also applies to Muller.”
He was a regular starter last season but saw a sharp decline in his scoring output even though he remained important for the team, per Squawka Football:
Squawka Football @Squawka
Most assists in the Bundesliga last season: Emil Forsberg (19) Ousmané Dembélé (12) Thomas Müller (12) Franck Ribéry (11) 🎯 https://t.co/QBSfGNqXxU2017-8-18 17:29:01
Muller has always been something of an enigma in modern football, as he's never played a defined position. He's at his best in a free role in the attacking third, playing as a secondary striker and running between the lines as often as possible.
While that style of play worked well under former manager Pep Guardiola, Ancelotti doesn't have a need for such a player in his system. The Italian relies on the creativity of his wide men and needs a classic attacking midfielder behind his main striker―against Werder, he relied on Thiago Alcantara.
He also brought in James Rodriguez on loan, and once the Colombian learns the system and finds his form, he's likely to see heavy minutes as well.
None of this can be good news for Muller, who showed in the 2015-16 season just how effective he can be when used correctly. Here's a compilation of his many goals in that campaign:
Muller has been with Bayern for his entire professional career and the bulk of his formative years, so it won't be easy to pry him out of Bavaria. He wouldn't be the first local hero to move abroad to further his career, however. Toni Kroos also got his professional start with the Bundesliga champions but has thrived since his move to Real Madrid in 2014.
It's too early to talk about Muller's departure as a likely event, but clubs will keep a close eye on his situation in the coming months, with a January move not out of the question.