Club – Bayern Munich
Age – 20 (September 13, 1989)
Nationality – German
Previous Clubs – None
Position – Attacking Midfield/ Forward
Over recent years, FC Bayern have shown that there is very little consistent about them. They are quick to change manager when things are going badly and, even when things are going well, they are always liable for changes to the squad. However, if there is one thing the Bavarians always do well, it is bring through world class talent from their academy – and young prodigy Thomas Muller is the latest evidence of that. Possessing the silky skills of Frank Ribery and cool finishing prowess of Mario Gomez, Muller looks very much at home in a squad of big names and often comes away out-performing them. It is for that reason that Bayern old boys Franz Beckenbauer, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and name sake Gerd Muller are tipping Thomas Muller to follow in their footsteps and become the next Bayern legend.
It may seem like a lot of pressure to pile on the shoulders of a mere 20 year old, but everyone coming through the ranks at Bayern knows that pressure is all part of the job. All youngsters are reminded of the clubs huge expectancy from a young age, and the ones who make it are the ones who generally deal with the burden the best. The likes of Bastien Schweinsteiger and Phillip Lahm have all survived well, and Thomas Muller displays the same resiliency that is becoming a Bayern specialty. At all levels Muller has been a star performer, and the 2009/10 Bundesliga season has given him the chance to pick up that mantle at senior level. So far, he seems to fit the bill of everything FC Bayern are looking for in a player – which is why he has become one of few main stays in Louis Van Gaal’s squad.
Joining FC Bayern in the 2000 season as a ten year old, Muller rose through the youth ranks fast. Playing originally as an out and out striker, he was often the youth side’s top scorer with his best return in a single season being 18 goals in 26 games. This led to him being drafted into Bayern’s reserve side in March 2008 for their Regionalliga clash against Unterhaching. Muller was brought in with the purpose of giving management a better idea of whether he could cope with a higher level of football, and answered them with a debut goal in a man of the match performance. He went on to make two more appearances before the end of the season, but saw any further progress curtailed by injury.
The following season was seen as a breakthrough season for Muller as he became a regular for Bayern Reserves in the newly created 3.Bundesliga. He went on to make 32 appearances and scored an impressive 15 goals but, more significantly, went on to make his first team debut in the Bundesliga game against Hamburg in what was his busiest season so far. His performance was good enough to earn him three more Bundesliga appearances that season as well as a cameo role in the Champions League demolishing of Sporting. Muller came from the bench late on and scored the final goal in a 7-1 rout. While a goal against a hapless Sporting side was not really considered a massive achievement, considering Bayern scored 12 in two games against them, it showed that Muller was mature enough to deliver on the big stage.
The current season has seen Muller cement his place in what is predominately a struggling Bayern side. Despite all the negative press surrounding the 2008 champions, the latest hot property has been gaining rave reviews for his determined performances that have already seen him score three goals from midfield – more than any of their senior strikers. A petulant red card in a Champions League tie with Bordeaux has blotted his copy book a little, but not enough to stop him earning a call up to Joachim Low’s German national squad for the November friendlies with Chile and Ivory Coast. His performances at Under 21 level have been equally impressive, and Low had no option but to include him given the media frenzy over Muller’s current form. Most feel Muller can be a huge star for country as well as club, and it seems highly likely, barring injury, that the youngster will be lighting up the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.