Why Thomas Müller deserves his Germany recall
Thomas Müller is back in the Germany side and heading to UEFA Euro 2020. It's a richly deserved return to the national team for the Bayern Munich record-breaker, following two years of remarkable performances - even by his own lofty standards.
Müller will now get the opportunity to add to his 100 caps for Die Mannschaft, the last of which came as a substitute in a 2-2 draw against the Netherlands in the inaugural UEFA Nations League in November 2018.
That marked the end of a forgettable year for the national team, as their FIFA World Cup defence didn't make it past the Group Stage and their Nations League debut ended in disappointment.
Watch: All of Thomas Müller's goals and assists in 2020/21
Since then, coach Joachim Löw has successfully integrated an enormously talented younger generation of players into the national team setup.
Those same players will now benefit from the experience of a record 10-time Bundesliga champion, two-time UEFA Champions League and 2014 World Cup winner, as well as a man who has featured in three World Cups, and another two European Championships.
Each of those previous Euro campaigns ended in runs to the semi-final, while Müller’s 10 World Cup goals are the most of any active player - three more than the next best duo of Cristiano Ronaldo and Luis Suarez.
Players such as Bayern teammate Jamal Musiala will be direct beneficiaries from Müller's experience, relentless drive and winning mentality. As the man himself explained in an interview with The Daily Mail, where Müller described what it takes to keep pace with him day-in, day-out.
"[Musiala and Bayerns youngsters] keep me on my toes for sure and they keep my body in shape. But I think the other way round. I keep them on their toes! And they have to know that when they start playing for Bayern, it doesn't matter which age, they have to win."
Müller - whose return to the Germany team was hinted at by Löw earlier this year - also brings 38 goals and 36 assists to the table from 100 international appearances, and can nod to World Cup Golden and Silver Boots - in 2010 and 2014, respectively - to further validate his stellar credentials.
Not that he needs validation. This, after all, is a player who also redefined his own "space interpretation" on the football pitch, and is still only 31-years-old.
Not only that, but he is also playing possibly the best football of an already illustrious career. Müller has followed up last season's sextuple heroics by becoming - alongside David Alaba - the first player in Bundesliga history to have lifted the Meisterschale on 10 separate occasions.
Watch: Thomas Müller named in 2020/21 Bundesliga Team of the Season
Müller broke the top-flight record for most assists in a single season in 2019/20, and has backed that up once again with another league-leading effort of 18 provisions in 2020/21 - still with one game to go. He's also added 11 Bundesliga goals this term, a number only bettered by the ludicrous output of Robert Lewandowski among his clubmates.
The Bayern forward's efforts over the last 24 months have been impossible to ignore, as Löw pointed out in March. With Müller back in the Germany squad, his coach - "who thinks in two-year cycles" - now heads to the Euros with one of Europe's most in-form players in his ranks.
"[Müller]'s got a very good sense of the game tactically and he's a player who's very important on the pitch - he's the coach's right-hand man," said Müller's club coach Hansi Flick recently. "He leads the team, he leads his teammates and plays at a very high level. Thomas is a player that would do any team good."
Clearly, Löw agrees and it's just as obvious that no-one does it like Müller. So, what will he add to the team? Müller is best placed to answer that.
"I don't enjoy being classed as a striker, I don't see myself as one," he said previously. "I like to be active in the space in behind the opposition's midfield. That's where I can hurt the opponent most of all. I'm a mix between a striker and a midfielder. I'm a Raumdeuter. It's about instinct."
And it won't just be Müller-the-Raumdeuter that Löw gets, he will also have at his disposal Müller-the-Joker and Müller-the-Mentor.
It will be a long tournament, with players on top of each other in close quarters - even before you factor in coronavirus bio-bubbles - and nerves tested on and off the pitch every day. With that in mind, Müller's personality will be just as important as his professionalism.
This is, after all, a man who gave us Robert LewnGOALski, Leon SCOREtzka and THAT Road Runner impression of Canadian wunderkind, Alphonso Davies.
Watch: Müller keen on winning more
Having been there and done it all before, Müller - who has recently started filming coaching tips for kids on his YouTube channel - always has time for younger teammates, too. Just ask Musiala: "Thomas helps me enormously. I'm very grateful that I get to learn from him in every training session and game, and that he always has an open ear for me."
A player and person like no other, in the best form of his life - Müller is fully deserving of his inclusion in Germany’s Euro 2020 squad. And their chances of going all the way this summer may well have just improved.
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