Having been an absolute key member of Bayern’s Double winners this season and quite possibly about to inspire the Bavarians to a second Treble in seven years, Thomas Müller’s importance and worth as a player are obvious to everyone. The 30-year-old Raumdeuter continues to provide the impulse in attack and is a key creator and taker of chances. His importance to Hansi Flick’s Bayern side is immense.
However, the German national side still believe they are not in need of the player’s talent. Can Bundestrainer Joachim Löw continue to ignore Müller in this form and proceed with his policy of using younger players?
It was following Germany’s disastrous 2018 World Cup in Russia that Löw announced his decision that Müller, along with Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels were no longer going to be considered for the Nationalmannschaft. Tensions at the World Cup between the older and younger elements of the side were cited, as well as Löw’s belief that he needed to make room for some of the very talented youngsters coming through after Germany finished bottom of their mini group in the European Nations League tournament.
The likes of Manuel Neuer, Ilkay Gundogan and Marco Reus were retained, but it was the end of the line for Müller, Boateng and Hummels. It was a brave and controversial decision. However, the form shown by the trio, and Thomas Müller in particular, over the past season has brought cries for a rethink from certain circles.
Müller has been outstanding for Bayern during the revival under Hansi Flick providing a Bundesliga record 21 assists and adding 8 goals. Bayern’s honorary president Franz Beckenbauer has voiced his support for the Bayern attacker’s recall to the national team.
“Thomas Müller should play for Germany again. Joachim Löw could bring him back without losing face,” Beckenbauer told Bild.
“Müller went through a difficult time at Bayern and was on the bench for a long time. But you’ve got to see that he has developed further there, too. Müller is now the absolute leader. His personality would certainly help the national team, but the decision is naturally up to the national team coach.”
The argument to recall Müller is a very strong one, but is there an equally strong counterargument for Joachim Löw to stick to his original decision?
Germany are not short of players to pick from in the Müller position. If we consider Timo Werner Germany’s number one striker, the roles in the attacking third behind him since Löw’s discarding of Müller have not exactly been second-rate. The national trainer has the choice of Leroy Sané and Serge Gnabry (as is soon to be Bayern’s wing duo) as well as both Kai Havertz and Julian Brandt. Add in Marco Reus, Leon Goretzka and even Julian Draxler and there is no shortage of options.
Müller is an undoubted talent, has enjoyed a fantastic season, but does he have to accept his international career is over? Some would say picking the best players available on form is the way to go, whereas others believe the system and the development of a team is more important that picking the best player for each position.
It’s a Catch-22 situation for Joachim Löw.
One potential open, is for Müller to be picked for Germany’s 2020 Olympic squad as one of the permitted overage players. He has intimated that he would look positively on an Olympic call-up, particularly as his wife Lisa may also be competing in Tokyo in the dressage event.
The decision for Jogi Löw in the medium-term however is one of quality over planning. Should he continue on his current path and Germany perform poorly at the European Championships, Müller’s absence will be used as a stick to beat him with. Should Sané, Gnabry, Havertz and Brandt inspire Germany to glory, he will have been vindicated.