Hansi Flick (l.) believes Bayern Munich and Germany "phenomenon" Thomas Müller (r.) is in a league of his own. - © imago images
Hansi Flick (l.) believes Bayern Munich and Germany "phenomenon" Thomas Müller (r.) is in a league of his own. - © imago images

"There'll never be anyone like Thomas Müller" - Hansi Flick

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo might well go down as the greatest players in history, but Hansi Flick says Thomas Müller is worthy of his own place in the annals.

Müller has won virtually everything there is to win for Bayern Munich and Germany since bursting onto the scene in 2008, including a record 10 Bundesliga titles and the 2014 FIFA World Cup. The 31-year-old has produced 214 goals and 218 assists across 581 appearances at club level, despite being neither pure centre-forward, second striker, attacking midfielder nor winger.

In Müller's own words, he's a "Raumdeuter" (a space interpreter) - someone who exploits space in the same way Messi uses his left foot, or Ronaldo his athleticism to outwit opposition defenders.

Watch: Raumdeuter Thomas Müller under the tactical microscope

According to Flick - Bayern's 2020 sextuple-winning head coach and Germany's 2014 World Cup-winning assistant - he's "a phenomenon".

"Thomas doesn't always do everything right in the game, but he gives you a lot more to be excited about than not," the 56-year-old told Bayern members' magazine, 51. "There are times when he goes out to the corner, where he shouldn't be, loses the ball and a counter-attack comes out of it. I almost had to laugh and had the feeling that he was doing it on purpose, to annoy me a bit and to get the adrenaline pumping again.

"You can't always grasp his playing style, but you can't quantify what he brings to the team and the club either. He's always positive, has the energy levels of an 18-year-old and spurs on all the players. You can only take your hat off to what he has achieved in his career - it's unique. There will never be anyone like him."

Few are better versed in the mechanics of Müller.

Flick was Joachim Löw's assistant when Müller claimed World Cup Golden and Silver Boots in 2010 and 2014 respectively. When he replaced Niko Kovac as Bayern coach in November 2019, his decision to restore the Raumdeuter to his rightful place in behind Robert Lewandowski yielded unprecedented results.

Across a wildly successful 18-month tenure, Flick's Bayern won a 2020 sextuple and the 2020/21 Bundesliga. Müller missed just six competitive games, whilst topping the Bundesliga's assist charts for two seasons running.

Müller played the full 90 minutes in a Germany shirt for the first time since June 2018, against Denmark. - Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

A long-awaited recall to the Germany team was inevitable. Named in Löw's 26-man squad for the UEFA 2020 Euros, the Bayern No.25 earned his 101st senior cap - some 19 months after his last - in his country's warm-up draw with Denmark on 2 June.

"Thomas has been delivering top performances for two years, so you like to have a player like that in the team." Flick, who will have the opportunity to coach Müller once more when he officially succeeds Löw after the pan-European finals, told Munich-based tabloid, tz.

"He always gives everything," he added in 51. "And what's more, he's down to earth and a really good guy."