Thomas Müller (l.) expects Leon Goretzka (r.) to continue his purple patch in the absence of Bayern Munich star striker Robert Lewandowski (c.). - © imago
Thomas Müller (l.) expects Leon Goretzka (r.) to continue his purple patch in the absence of Bayern Munich star striker Robert Lewandowski (c.). - © imago
bundesliga

"Leon SCOREtzka can help fill in for Robert LewanGOALski" - Bayern Munich's Thomas Müller

He's rechristened Alphonso Davies and Robert Lewandowski - now Thomas Müller has a brand spanking new nickname for Bayern Munich teammate Leon Goretzka.

Müller had fans rolling in the aisles at his impression of the Road Runner in a post-match interview last season, as he likened the Bundesliga's fastest player, Davies, to the speedy Looney Tunes bird.

"Alphonso is a player with a lot of heart and a lot of power, extreme power," Müller said after Bayern's title-deciding win over Borussia Dortmund. "Sometimes maybe he does not have the best position on the field, but he gets the opponent feeling 'I have time, I have time', but then: 'meep meep, meep meep!' The Bayern Road Runner comes ahead and steals the ball."

Watch: Thomas Müller on Bayern's Road Runner

Müller's moniker for Lewandowski didn't go down quite as well with journalists asking the questions following Bayern's 8-2 rout of Barcelona in the 2020/21 UEFA Champions League quarter-finals.

Speaking after his side's victory, Müller said: "We at Bayern have Robert LewanGOALski," only for his clever play on words to be met with muted response. "You know, Robert LewanGOALski," he insisted.

Football writers can be a tough crowd, but Müller's former Bayern teammate Mats Hummels seemed to appreciate the joke during an Instagram exchange on the subject of Leon Goretzka.

Discussing which Bayern players might step up to the goal-scoring plate in the absence of the injured Lewandowski - the Poland striker having been ruled out for around four weeks with a knee ligament strain sustained during the March international break - Müller quipped: "A certain Leon SCOREtzka".

"That's a good one," smiled Hummels in response.

All jokes aside, the 6'2" Goretzka has proved himself to be a real asset in front of goal of late. The former Bochum and Schalke midfielder has registered two goals and six assists in his last six competitive games for Bayern, and was on target in Germany's 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying Group J opener against Iceland.

Müller has been no less creative after producing 13 goals and 17 assists so far this season. On course to top the Bundesliga's assists charts for the second year running, the self-appointed 'Raumdeuter' (space interpreter) insists he is not the enigma the football world makes him out to be.

"For example, the ball is on the left-wing, and the left winger is dribbling, but there is no option to cross," he told The Independent. "So he passes the ball back, maybe diagonally, to defensive midfield, or back to the left-back. Every opponent defender is looking at the ball like a zombie. So it's clear that the space behind the diagonal cross in the right part of the box is empty and clear. You can make a run from the right side, on the offside line, and then cut in.

Watch: Thomas Müller under the tactical microscope

"Maybe it's special that one of my strengths is I do it again and again and again. Every good striker or good attacking midfielder knows that these runs are very dangerous for the opponents’ defence, but some are maybe not strong enough to do it 50 times. Maybe 49 times you don’t get the ball, or you lose it. Football is a game of many, many mistakes - especially in attack. We have to try it again, try it again, then maybe the defender makes a mistake at the 51st time. Then you can score."

All told, Müller's idiosyncratic qualities have yielded 212 goals and 210 assists in 517 competitive games for boyhood club Bayern. He also produced 38 goals and 36 assists in 100 senior Germany internationals before being told he would no longer be considered for selection, roughly two years ago.

Unable to ignore Müller's exploits at club level, however, Germany coach Joachim Löw has intimated he could bring the Bayern No.25 back into the fold in time for this summer's rescheduled UEFA Euro 2020 finals.

"A topic that is regularly talked about, and rightly so, is that of Müller, [Jerome] Boateng and Hummels," Löw told German television broadcaster ARD recently. "I'll make a decision in May."

Needless to say 'Der Raumdeuter' would be a welcome re-addition alongside 'SCOREtzka'.