The modern day footballer is often associated with flashy cars, multi-million pound mansions and luxury lifestyles. But Thomas Muller doesn’t fit that narrative at all.
In fact, the German forward is so out of sync with the current wave of superstars, he can be seen as an unfashionable selection in a team designed to dazzle and destroy in style. But the only thing more underrated than Muller himself is his value to this Bayern team, and just how instrumental he is in making the Bundesliga champions tick.
As football fans, we are desperate to pigeonhole players into specific roles, or bill them as the next big thing. But 12 years after making his debut, we are yet to put our finger on what role Muller actually performs in this Bayern side.
In Germany however, they were much quicker to peg the 30-year-old to a specific position, and they even had a name for it: The Raumdeuter. Which of course, translates as ‘the space investigator’. But what exactly does a space investigator do?
Well, beyond the obvious – which is hinted at in the title – the Raumdeuter is a creature of instinct, who loiters out wide, darting into pockets of space and waiting for the right time to strike. And given the lack of other examples of such footballing animals, we can safely say that Muller is the best in the business at what he does (whatever that is).
And the statistics support these claims. Opta highlighted the importance of the space investigator following Bayern’s comprehensive 4-2 win over Bayer Leverkusen, after he clocked his 20th league assist of the season.
Just to give that fact the context it deserves, it’s the first time a player has managed that particular feat across Europe’s top five leagues since Kevin de Bruyne lit up Germany with Wolfsburg over the 2014/15 campaign.
And it’s not just his ability to bring his teammates into play that makes Muller one of the most curious and impressive players on the planet. He has also registered seven league goals, and could well reach double figures by the time the season draws to an end.
Muller is a team player, a man who spots, penetrates and exploits space like no other, leaving defenders scratching their heads over who should be marking this evasive and mystical creature. All in all, he’s a manager and player’s dream.
He is the glue that keeps the team together, the cement that neatly fills the cracks of your patio – he’s the tasty, soft centre of a custard cream which makes it oh, so dunkable in a good ol’ cuppa.
And the Bayern man is showing no signs of stopping. That is, apart from next week, of course.
Muller picked up a yellow card during the destruction of Leverkusen on Saturday afternoon, meaning he is suspended for their upcoming clash with Borussia Monchengladbach next weekend. And impressively, it is the first time that the space investigator will sit out a Bundesliga match due to suspension in his entire career.
A minor blemish on a squeaky-clean CV.
So for those of us who are still unsure of what Muller offers to this Bayern team, tune in to watch their Monchengladbach battle next week, and you may find that he is the player you’ve always needed, but foolishly never wanted.