Thomas Müller Extension Underlines Power Dynamics At Bayern Munich

FC Bayern München v VfB Stuttgart - Bundesliga


Speculations that Bayern Munich legend Thomas Müller could end his career following the European Championships next summer in Germany came to an end on Tuesday. Bayern Munich announced that the 34-year-old attacking midfielder had signed a new contract until 2025.

According to a report by Bild, Müller’s contract will run with the same conditions as his previous deal. Sport Bild previously reported that Müller earned €20 million ($22 million) a season. Together with goalkeeper Manuel Neuer and English star striker Harry Kane, Müller belongs to the top earners at the Rekordmeister.

“I’m happy that my journey at FC Bayern is continuing,” Müller said in a club statement. “I want to do my part to ensure that we remain successful—as a team and as a whole club. It’s important to me to be a cornerstone and help steer the team in the right direction. I want to inspire our fans with goals, assists, my love for the game, my passion for football – and hopefully with many more titles.”

Indeed, it was far from certain that Müller’s journey with the club would continue beyond this season. After all, Müller’s playing time had dropped significantly in recent weeks. The 34-year-old has managed just 705 minutes in 18 games across all competitions for Bayern this season, scoring two goals and five assists.

With that in mind, there have been some speculations that Müller has a strained relationship with head coach Thomas Tuchel. Indeed, Sport Bild speculated earlier this month that Tuchel would like to get rid of the midfielder sooner rather than later.

Tuchel, however, has pushed back on those reports. “Of course,” Tuchel said when asked whether he still wanted to have Müller in his team earlier this season. “I can’t say in what capacity, but we want to have him in the team. He is top fit; he loves to practice and loves to play. Why shouldn’t he continue to play at a high level.”

Perhaps the undertone here was that Müller could also play at a high level elsewhere. Furthermore, Tuchel is smart; after all, Müller has significant influence, and previous head coaches Carlo Ancelotti and Niko Kovac lost the power struggle with a player who can only be described as an institution in Munich.

FC Bayern München v 1. FC Heidenheim 1846 - Bundesliga


Indeed, Bayern CEO Herbert Hainer underlined Müller’s standing within the team on Tuesday. “Thomas Müller belongs to FC Bayern like the Frauenkirche to Munich,” Hainer said. “He was born just outside the city, grew up at this club, and is already a legend while still playing. Very few players achieve that. His career is littered with records in the history books. FC Bayern has been shaped by many people, and there will never again be a player like Thomas Müller.”

In other words, if it were between Tuchel and Müller, the bosses at Bayern would probably, for now, stick with the legendary attacking midfielder. Indeed, there was some consternation that Müller not only didn’t start in the 5-1 loss to Eintracht Frankfurt but also that Tuchel opted to bring on the midfielder in the 70th minute when the game was firmly lost.

It was, therefore, not a big surprise that Müller then started one week later in the must-win game against Stuttgart. It was a game that Bayern controlled and easily won 3-0.

“He is a leader on and off the pitch, always a role model, and incredibly valuable to the whole team,” sporting director Christoph Freund said in a club statement. “Thomas takes every team forward because he’s open and positive on and off the pitch. He’s extremely clever, helps the team, and is extremely versatile. In addition, Thomas is almost never injured, always there: simply quality and reliability personified.”

Reading between the lines, the Bayern bosses still believe that the attacking midfielder can significantly contribute on the pitch, and the new contract will strengthen Müller’s position on and off the field. It also sends a message to Tuchel: for now, the club still stands firmly behind their club legend, and it is now up to the head coach to get the best out of Müller.

Manuel Veth is the host of the Bundesliga Gegenpressing Podcast and the Area Manager USA at Transfermarkt. He has also been published in the Guardian, Newsweek, Howler, Pro Soccer USA, and several other outlets. Follow him on Twitter: @ManuelVeth and on Threads: @manuveth

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