WHEN ROBERT Lewandowski agreed to move to German giants Bayern Munich in January it not only surprised his old club Borussia Dortmund and German football, but it also caught one of his new team-mates by surprise.
Thomas Muller has been a key figure in Bayern’s side over the last six years and has gone on to make 256 appearances for the club which he grew up with. Regarded as one of the best players to come through the clubs ranks over the past decade or so he now wants clarification over his future at the Allianz Arena after only 25 starts last season and now a new team-mate to contend with.
Lewandowski’s arrival not only threatens the position of strike partner Mario Mandzukic, but is also throws Muller’s status up in the air. When appointed Bayern coach in 2013 Josep Guardiola told Muller that he would become one of his key players under his stewardship but with the signing of Poland’s star man that has been thrown out of the window.
Muller was quoted in Bild saying: “I have come to a point where I want to know if I am an important part of the future starting line-up in Bavaria. And [I need to know] if the club really has plans for me in the coming years.
That is why I have asked for a conversation.”
Bayern have a jewel of riches at their disposal in the attacking third of the pitch. Mario Gotze, Mandzukic, Frank Ribery, Arjen Robben and now Lewandowski are important pieces of the jigsaw and it remains to be seen just how much game-time Muller gets next season.
If he decides to leave one of his potential suitors could be Louis Van Gaal’s Manchester United. The Dutch coach will take the reins at Old Trafford at the conclusion of this summer’s World Cup and Muller knows Van Gaal from their time together at Bayern Munich.
Indeed it was Van Gaal himself who gave Muller his first-team debut and he knows the player inside out. Their close friendship could go a long way if indeed Muller does pack his bags.
A player with the qualities that Muller possess’ deserves a starting role and with his all-round striking abilities has proved very important to the German champions over the years.
After breaking onto the scene in 2008 he went on to become a first-team regular in 2009-2010 and scored 19 goals in 52 games however it has been over the last two seasons where he has gone from strength to strength. 23 goals in 47 appearances in 2012-2013 was followed by 26 in 51 last year and shows how deadly he can be in front of goal.
With his ability to play through the middle, behind the striker or on the right-wing he is a versatile player which United desperately need after a disappointing campaign last time out.
During his time in Munich Muller has won three Bundesliga titles, three German Cups, the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Super Cup and FIFA World Club Cup.
The German international also has an impressive international record, with 17 goals in 48 appearances. His first five goals for the national team came during the 2010 World Cup as he finished the tournament’s top scorer and was voted the tournaments best young player.
If Bayern agree to sell Muller he will be a costly signing. Both in terms of transfer fee and wages. Only a handful of European clubs will realistically be able to afford his signature and despite no European football at United next season the Manchester club have a large transfer kitty.
The fact that United missed out on Champions League qualification could prove a stumbling block to any deal between the two parties. But they would have been confident of attracting the striker after his comments about their new manager last month: “It’s no secret that Louis van Gaal and I have a relationship that goes a little beyond the normal relationship between coaches and players.”