Bayern Munich coach Julian Nagelsmann says he is delighted with the progress made by Jamal Musiala this season, as well as that of USA international Chris Richards, who is on loan at Saturday’s opponents Hoffenheim.
Still just 19 – Musiala won’t be 20 until February next year – Nagelsmann has no doubts about the Germany international’s quality, but believes he has made great strides in terms of regularly producing the goods in recent weeks.
Watch: The best of Musiala
"His development is good, he’s becoming more consistent,” the tactician said at his media briefing ahead of Bayern’s Matchday 26 trip to his former side Hoffenheim, where Musiala is set to become the youngest player in Bayern history to reach 50 Bundesliga appearances.
“There are still two or three moments per game in terms of his decision making when he wants to hold on to the ball too long when he’s in a deeper position, but that’s a question of adapting to being in that position.”
An attacking midfielder by trade, Musiala, who has three Bundesliga goals and four assists to his name this season, has been deployed further back in recent weeks owing to injuries to Leon Goretzka and Corentin Tolisso, among others, and has struck up a good understanding alongside Joshua Kimmich in the middle of the pitch
“He did well in the four games before Christmas, where there were a lot of players injured and away, out with COVID-19 and injury,” Nagelsmann continued, dedicating a minute and a half of the 15-minute press conference to analysing Musiala’s progress.
“He really improved his reliability. He’s got great quality in attack, is very assured on the ball, and the manner in which he can turn his way out of different pressure situations is extraordinary. Really good.
“I think he’s had problems over the past year or two to perform consistently over several games. He played consistently well in the four games before Christmas. He’s now played well in run of games, taking the next step in his development, which is to be able to start several games in a row and reach the same level, always on the up.
“When you’re 17 or 18 it’s normal that after two or three games in a row that you can have a dip, but he’s got that under control now. He’s hugely important for us. I hope that continues. We’re delighted to have him with us.”
Musiala is set to begin a third straight Bundesliga match when Bayern travel to fourth-placed Hoffenheim on Saturday, with the home side looking to extend their winning streak to five consecutive games.
Watch: Musiala's Bundesliga mixtape
One player already ruled out of the fixture, however, is Richards, who is enjoying a successful second loan spell at Sebastian Hoeneß’s side from Bayern.
The 21-year-old has not played since the end of January due to a foot injury, but Nagelsmann has still been keeping a close eye on the six-time USA international.
“He’s developing well [in Hoffenheim]. That’s what he needs. It’s perfect for him. He knows the coach very well, and the coach knows him too. It’s perfect in terms of the level of play. He’s got a very good role there and is sort of a leader – he coaches them at the back.
Watch: Chris Richards: Hoffenheim Home-From-Home
“It’s exactly the kind of outcome you want from loan deals like this, that the players get the necessary game time. The fact that he’s playing is the key factor. With us he wouldn’t have played as much as he is in Hoffenheim, or at least, as much as he does when he’s fit.
“It’s a shame he can’t play this weekend. I hope he returns to fitness soon to continue his development. We’ll have to see what the future brings, but we’ll decide that together.”
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