International Champions Cup Singapore

Football: The 'space investigator' looks for a renaissance

Bayern Munich star Thomas Muller signing autographs for fans at Clifford Square yesterday. The German international had an underwhelming season by his own high standards last term and will want to bounce back ahead of the World Cup.
Bayern Munich star Thomas Muller signing autographs for fans at Clifford Square yesterday. The German international had an underwhelming season by his own high standards last term and will want to bounce back ahead of the World Cup.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

It can be hard to pigeonhole Thomas Muller - a supremely effective footballer despite his spindly frame, ungainly stride and unwieldy skills.

Even his playing position is hard to determine: Raumdeuter, as the Germans call their World Cup-winning hero, or "space investigator", for the way he drifts wide before swooping in for the kill.

Yet, an unproductive 2016-17 season that yielded just five Bundesliga goals saw question marks raised over the Bayern Munich star. But for the man himself, it simply gives him the opportunity to re-invent himself, just like how he shaped his first innovative tactical role.

Said the 27-year-old yesterday evening at an event for the club's apparel sponsor adidas: "Last season we had quite a few changes, but now the coach and I know each other quite well so I think next season will be very good for Bayern Munich as well as for me.

"I took a break and then on July 1, came back and trained very hard to be good in shape.

"I missed a few chances (last season), but I think I made a lot of assists so maybe I have to change my tactics and shoot a little bit more often than in the past year. Of course scoring goals makes you happy, but what is important is that the team win the games."

Muller, along with team-mates David Alaba and James Rodriguez, ran the last leg of a 12km dribbling relay from Jalan Besar Stadium to Clifford Square. The relay also saw national players Izwan Mahbud, Khairul Nizam and Nazrul Nazari, as well as ex-Lions captain Fandi Ahmad and his two youngest sons, Ilhan and Iryan, take part.

While there are murmurings that Rodriguez was signed as his replacement, the German international insists that he can play alongside the Colombian.

"He's a great player, and we will try to learn to play together and have some great games and win many titles," he said.

No doubt, this space investigator can also evolve and prosper.


•Additional reporting by Jean Iau

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 25, 2017, with the headline 'The 'space investigator' looks for a renaissance'. Print Edition | Subscribe