Why Thomas Muller Is the Most Frustrating Player in the Bayern Munich Squad

Stefan Bienkowski@@SbienkowskiFeatured ColumnistJuly 30, 2015

Bayern's Thomas Mueller pauses during the soccer Champions League second leg semifinal match between Bayern Munich and FC Barcelona at Allianz Arena in Munich, southern Germany, Tuesday, May 12, 2015. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)
Matthias Schrader/Associated Press

When it comes to Bayern Munich and Pep Guardiola, there is an embarrassment of riches among an entire squad of superstars. Whether it be in goal, across the back line, in midfield or indeed in attack; the Bavarian giants have a distinguished talent for every position. 

Yet these players aren't robots who can go in and out of use from one week to the next without wondering just where their career is heading. Guardiola may look at his players as exchangeable cogs in his great Munich machine, but the players themselves often have a habit of struggling to follow suit.

It's for this reason, and perhaps this reason alone, that Guardiola's most distinguished players are potential pantomime villains. Things may seem quiet and still on the surface of this Bayern squad, but underneath is a number of individuals who feel frustrated with the current setup. 

The most notable of these players is obviously Mario Gotze—who spoke out about his situation at Bayern to Bild (via the Daily Mail) and on other occasions—but there is another who could spend this season as disappointed as he was last season. Thomas Muller is his name, and he is undoubtedly in the most frustrating situation as a player at Bayern. 

Despite the Germany international's obvious talent and nose for goals, which even surpasses the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo at World Cup level, many Bayern fans will be well aware that Guardiola's system simply doesn't fit Muller. 

The forward amassed an impressive 21 goals and 18 assists over the course of last season, according to Transfermarkt, which would suggest he's done absolutely fine in Munich. Yet, despite his goals, assists and success, the 25-year-old still doesn't really have a nailed-down position in this side. 

Kerstin Joensson/Associated Press

When Guardiola is having a good week and has a full, fresh squad to choose from, it's hard for him to justify including Muller. If playing a 4-2-3-1, the forward may play in the No. 10 position, but more often than not the manager would choose Robert Lewandowski up front, with Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery on either wing and a midfield trio behind them. 

Unfortunately for Muller, his boss tends to prefer quicker, more technical players on either wing. It's why he took so well to Messi, Robben and Ribery and why Douglas Costa was the first name on his shortlist this summer. The German forward may get goals, but to call his style of play irregular would be an understatement. 

At times last season it was almost as if Muller was of a ruling all to his own. Guardiola's team was as regimented as it ever has been under the Spaniard, yet the forward in question continued to roam between lines and out of position as he has done since he was a young starlet coming through the ranks. He's been a ghost who has never truly found a home in Guardiola's machine. 

Defenders of the Guardiola-Muller relationship would argue that the forward started 28 of Bayern's 34 Bundesliga games last year, yet much of that was down to the fact that Robben and Ribery missed a combined total of 34 league matches last season. 

Although neither winger looks in any better shape this season, the arrival of Douglas Costa will undoubtedly eat in to Muller's time on the pitch as a preferably wide forward. 

DOHA, QATAR - JANUARY 6: Pep Guardiola, coach of Bayern Muenchen directs the practice session, here with Thomas Muller, on day 2 of Bayern Muenchen Training Camp, held at the Aspire Academy for Sports Excellence on January 6, 2013 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo b
John Berry/Getty Images

What could perhaps be even worse for the forward would be any temptation from Guardiola to play Muller as a lone striker. The lack of any backup signed for Lewandowski this summer suggests as much, yet such a position rarely brings out the best in the Germany international. 

If the wide positions are to be filled by more direct, technical players and Muller is to be reassigned as an alternative to Lewandowski up front, we'll almost certainly see far less of the player's talent. Muller's signature movement and late runs into the box will be all but removed from his game should he become a striker, and that will do very little for either the player or his side. 

With Guardiola expected to move on to pastures new at the end of the 2015/16 season, it may simply be a case of holding on and riding through this current storm for Muller. His current manager and the tactics that follow him from one team to the next clearly don't suit the forward, but by this time next year, he may be back in the Bavarian limelight. 

Yet for now another season of jumping from one position to another is undoubtedly in store for the forward. It is a situation that doesn't suit Muller and surely adds to the frustration surrounding him. 


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