bundesliga

Why Bayern Munich's Jamal Musiala deserved to win the Kopa Trophy

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Such has been the spectacular rise of Bayern Munich and Germany teen Jamal Musiala, that few would be surprised to see the attacking sensation getting his hands on this year's Kopa Trophy prize.

Ranked third behind winner Pedri and second-placed Jude Bellingham of Borussia Dortmund in the race for last season's award, the Bayern and Germany trickster was among the favourites to take this year's gong following one more astounding year for club and country.

Chasing an unprecedented 10th top-flight title in a row, the mighty Bayern knew they could clinch the Meisterschale with victory against Dortmund on Matchday 31 of the 2021/22 campaign. The Bavarians' up and coming teenaged talent Musiala had weighed in with four goals and five assists in 26 Bundesliga encounters up to the point when the hosts welcomed their Klassiker rivals to the Allianz Arena last April. A 3-1 home win was the result, and on hand to slam home his side's third was Musiala, controlling the ball on his thigh before finding the net and getting the title celebrations started in Munich.

Watch: Where is Jamal Musiala at his best?

It was to be just one of so many highlights for the young, Stuttgart-born player who would feature 40 times over a successful campaign that saw him score eight goals and assist another eight times. The previous June, Musiala had stamped his authority as a big-time player on the international scene with Germany, coming on at the Euros to play an important role in helping his country achieve qualification for the tournament's Round of 16 with just minutes to spare.

His ultra slim frame combined with a shy off-field demeanour almost act as a ruse to lull opposing teams into a false sense of security. By now, however, most are only all to aware of Musiala's insane skills: the slaloming dribbles and thirst to thread the needle appearing on highlight reels the world over. In short, Musiala is a mega talent who can't be stopped on his journey to the very top of the game. His nomination for this season's Kopa Trophy is yet another testament to his magnificent ability and to the division that helped to cultivate it: for of the 10 nominations for this year's award, six play in the Bundesliga.

"I feel proud," the 19-year-old said during his successful campaign last season. "I've been practicing moves since I was very young. I used to practice in the street or in the garden. Now, I feel comfortable making those [on-field] moves and know when to use them," he added. "I'm confident and know how to use my dribbling ability."

Watch: Bellingham & Musiala - thriving under pressure

Speaking of how he sees his playing specialities, the versatile attacker explained, "I like to go into the half spaces and if I have a chance to turn and attack the defensive line; that's what I do and I think it's what I do best," he said.

The youngest German player ever to feature at a major tournament, Musiala admitted last year that training on the regular with the likes of footballing legend Thomas Müller had "become normal," while those senior players around him at Säbener Straße, "are my friends now." Musiala added of his teammates, "They talk to me, give me advice. They take the pressure off me. I can also go ask them questions; I always do that. It's also great fun playing with them."

No doubt the former England youth international will have the entire dressing room behind him ahead of Monday's Ballon d'Or ceremony, during which the Kopa Trophy winner will be announced. "The nice thing is that he's incredibly modest, very humble and doesn't celebrate when he's playing well but instead always wants more," Bayern coach Julian Nagelsmann once said of Musiala.

Watch: The Bundesliga's six Kopa Trophy nominees

"He has incredible qualities; [nowadays] it's hard to find that certain on-field mentality that he has and my biggest task is not to drive that out of him," Nagelsmann continued.

"It's just a pleasure to watch Jamal play, he's so comfortable on the ball," Germany coach Hansi Flick explained. "Even at his young age, he poses an incredibly high risk [to opposing teams]. He stays calm under pressure in the box and when he shoots, it's almost always out of a goalkeeper's reach; he does that really well."

As has been seen this season, those skills have only improved as Musiala has matured into one of the world's most exciting attacking players. He has already scored seven goals and laid on eight assists in his 13 games in all competitions so far in 2022/23, adding this season's Supercup to his growing trophy haul.

Musiala has already amassed 17 senior caps with Germany. - Alex Grimm/Getty Images

"While Jamal is out there taking on three players, I have more time to assess my options," Musiala's teammate Müller joked when asked about what the youngster brings to the team. "It's certainly the case that in certain situations you like to give him the ball. You say to yourself, 'Okay, now I'll play Jamal in because I know what he can do,'" Müller added.