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RAUMDEUTER

The original ‘space investigator’ is being squeezed out but Thomas Muller should go down as a legend

Not many players in the history of football can hold a handle to Thomas Muller's achievements

Thomas Muller is the least enigmatic enigma to lace up a pair of football boots.

In true enigmatic fashion, Muller finds himself axed from the German national team before reaching the Dirty Thirties.

But the 29-year-old wasn’t prematurely retired by Joachim Low for his part in a mass orgy or a week-long cocaine binge. That would be too enigmatic for the non-enigmatic enigma.

The Outlaws

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The Outlaws

Instead, Low made the decision to move forward without Muller- as well as his Bayern Munich team-mates Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng- in search of a ‘new beginning’.

Rumours also continue to persist about his future, or lack of, at Bayern- the club he’s called home since 2000.

Muller, the man credited for inventing the Raumdeuter– ‘space investigator’- role, is being squeezed out.

But Germany supporters don’t appear to be particularly bothered. After all, the emergence of Kai Havertz, Leroy Sane, Julian Brandt and Serge Gnabry means Germany aren’t lacking for creative options.

You’ve got the wrong shirt again pal

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You’ve got the wrong shirt again pal

Likewise, Bayern fans are licking their lips at the prospect of Callum Hudson-Odoi joining Kingsley Coman, Gnabry and Alphonso Davies out wide.

Muller is no longer an automatic fixture in Bayern’s first-team. He’s come off the bench nine times for Bayern this season, more times than he’s started in any specialist position.

He’s started in all three positions down the right and all three positions through the middle, but versatility comes with vulnerability.

It doesn’t help that with six league goals and six assists he’s by no means Bayern’s most effective goalscorer or creator.

Jack of all trades…

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Jack of all trades…

That Muller could retire tomorrow and no one would particularly miss him again speaks perfectly to his role as the non-enigmatic enigma.

This is one of the most highly-decorated players of the last 20 years.

With Bayern he’s won seven Bundesliga titles and counting, while his Champions League medal in 2013 came as part of a magnificent treble.

Internationally, he was still on the pitch when Mario Gotze volleyed home to win Germany the 2014 World Cup. Four years earlier, the same year in which he made his international debut, he was lifting the 2010 World Cup Golden Boot.

Smile for the cameras

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Smile for the cameras

As an academy product who went on to win it all for club and country, Muller could reasonably expect to have a statue built outside the Allianz Arena in his honour when he eventually calls it a day.

But Muller’s playing style always made him a tough one to love. He’s the master of space, not the ball. His YouTube compilation isn’t worth the 3.47 minutes of Dutch house it’s built on.

His touch isn’t particularly cute, his running style is often ungainly and his celebrations would cringe your dad into stopping dancing at a wedding.

However his football IQ, something that can’t be simplified to a number, is through the roof. Constantly outsmarting the world’s best defenders, as Muller has done for a decade now, takes some doing.

Muller’s team-mates took a very literal approach to holding his hand at the start of his career

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Muller’s team-mates took a very literal approach to holding his hand at the start of his career

There’s not a chance Muller will retire on 100 international caps, the number he now finds himself stranded on following Low’s intervention.

Firstly, he’s still got too much to offer a transitional German side. Secondly, that’s far too round a number for the non-enigmatic enigma to settle on.

Bring on cap 101.

There’s a Muller Corner hidden out of shot

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There’s a Muller Corner hidden out of shot

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