He is the FIFA World Cup Golden Boot: 2010 winner, FIFA World Cup Silver Boot: 2014 winner, FIFA World Cup Best Young Player: 2010 winner and the World Soccer Young Player of the Year: 2010 winner. He even recorded the most assists(same as Mesut Ozil, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Ricardo Kaka, and Dirk Kuyt) in the 2010 FIFA world cup. Yet he is often overlooked as a footballer. It is maybe due to his physique or the style of his play. Yet, for the German National Team and the current Bundesliga champions, Bayern Munich, he is the one that makes them tick. Yes, we are talking about Thomas Muller, The Raumdeuter.
Thomas Muller is not the best finisher out there. Neither is he the best dribbler out there, but he is the best at what he does: finding space and conquering them. In 2011, he defined his role as ICH BIN EIN RAUMDEUTER, which translates to space investigator.
What is this RAUMDEUTER, anyway?
There is no other player in the world that perfectly fits the bill of a Raumdeuter. Thomas Muller is brilliant in finding spaces and exploiting them. He is always at the receiving end of a cross or a pass, and he always makes it count. The German exploits his football intelligence and his skill to predict his teammate’s moves.
Thomas Muller broke into the scene under coach Louis van Gaal in the 2009/10 season. The dutchman recognized the german’s unique skill and gave him a unique roll in his squad. What is Thomas Muller’s unique role? Its being at the right place at the right time. Thomas Muller didn’t look back after that, as he touched double figures in terms of the number of goals scored in the eight out of nine seasons that followed.
As mentioned earlier, Thomas Muller doesn’t have the ideal traits of a top-class attacker. Is he the best dribbler out there? No. Is he the fastest player out there? No. Strongest? No. Then, what about his finishing? Not the best either! Do you want to hear YES as an answer? Then ask whether Thomas Muller is one of the most intelligent players out there? YES!
Thomas Muller is always there at the right place. He has tremendous anticipation of the game and is at least two steps ahead of everybody else. The German is a brilliant reader of the game, and he makes his opponents commit mistakes with his movement and pounce on them at the right opportunity. He is always “nearly” offside all the time, trying to find spaces in the final third, which requires awareness along with intelligent movement, on and off the ball.
How good is he?
Muller is not the fanciest footballer out there. Yet, any manager would like to have a player like him in their squad. It’s not just about his skill in anticipating the space, and making the most of it, he makes them count as well. He has reached double figures in terms of goals in all the seasons he played at the higher level, bar one.
This season, Muller became the first player in Europe’s top five leagues to register 20 assists. Apart from the 20 assists, he has scored seven himself. Not a bad tally for a not-so-fancy footballer, is it? With the season now back up and running, the German will improve his tally even further.
In short, Thomas Muller is unavoidable and yet overlooked as a footballer. He is that special thing that makes the Bavarian giants tick, the player that gives them an extra edge. He does that without running or dribbling, but with sheer brilliance. A coach’s dream!
So to all those who overlooked Thomas Muller, have a look at him when he plays the next time. There is far more than what catches the eye!