A glowing German star has started to shine, as Jamal Musiala surpasses 60 appearances for Bayern Munich despite being just 19 years old. The youngster’s flair and natural talent has led many to believe he was the one who should have won the Kopa Trophy but instead it was Barcelona’s Gavi.
Musiala was born on February 26, 2003. He was born in Stuttgart and lived in Germany for seven years until his family decided to move to England where he spent the majority of his childhood. The German attended schools in Croydon (London) and spent the majority of his footballing childhood in the Chelsea academy. In July of 2019, Musiala decided to leave Chelsea and made his move to Bayern despite only being 16 years old at the time. It was not until a year later that the German would make his professional debut for the second team of Bayern (also known as Bayern Munich II) where he came on as a substitute in a 3-2 win in the third tier of German football. The midfielder ended up making his debut for the first team in June 2020 as the Bavarians defeated Freiburg 3-1 and Musiala played the final ten minutes of the match. Subsequently, his appearance against Freiburg meant that he was the youngest player to appear in a Bundesliga match for Bayern at the age of 17. Musiala was also part of the Bayern side that won the 2019/20 Champions League although he hardly featured in the run up to the final against Paris Saint-Germain which saw Bayern win 1-0 thanks to a Kingsley Coman header.
In late September 2020, Musiala scored his first Bundesliga goal in a 8-0 win against Schalke and subsequently became Bayern’s youngest goalscorer at just 17 years old. The 2021-22 season was the year that the 19-year-old really put himself on the map and he scored his first Champions League goal against FC Barcelona in a 3-0 win, as well as scoring in the 3-1 Der Klassiker win over Borussia Dortmund that sealed the Bavarian’s tenth league title in a row.
Many people wonder why Musiala opted to play for the German national team over the English national team. In November 2020, Musiala was called up to the England under-21’s for the first time and he made his debut in a 3-1 victory over Andorra at Molineux Stadium. After opting to play for the England youth teams, the German football federation signalled that they had stopped chasing Musiala. In prior years, the 19-year-old had indicated he felt more comfortable with the England team after playing for the Chelsea academy where he knew many of the players whereas with the German sides, he did not know anybody.
It was February 2021 when Musiala announced he would be choosing to represent Germany for full international matches. Just a month later, the midfielder received his first call up for the 2022 World Cup Qualifiers. He made his international debut in a 3-0 win over Iceland as Germany comfortably qualified for the Qatar World Cup – with Musiala playing an integral role in the side’s success. Germany’s intent to throw Musiala into the senior set-up perhaps integral to his decision to represent them internationally.
Musiala is an incredibly well-rounded and adaptive midfielder who has the capabilities to play anywhere across the midfield four. With his favoured right foot, he noticeably scans his space and builds an idea of where the next move is and where a chance can be created.
When playing out wide, Musiala possesses the touch and poise to beat a defender. Although he is not the fastest he can wriggle out of small spaces with intelligence and close control. He has tremendous passing abilities which has contributed heavily to his success as the advanced midfielder. So far this season, in the Champions League and Bundesliga, the 19-year-old is creating over four key chances a game for his teammates. He is also in the 95th percentile for shot creating actions across Europe this season. He is a chance creating machine and is so effective for Bayern, with Julian Nagelsmann stating: “He is definitely the best teenager I have worked with, he is incredibly good on the ball, but I would say that there is even more to come from him. He has lots of potential for what he does with the ball, he must have a magnet in his boots”.
When playing as the advanced midfielder, Musiala tends to play more transitional passes and his eye for a pass on the counter has contributed to many Bayern goals. He tends to drift across the frontline looking for space. However, when the team face a side wanting to stay deep Musiala tends to struggle, with him normally opting to go wide rather than operate within the half-space. In this scenario his timing and situational play needs work, but that will come with time and experience.
Although there is that element of raw talent with Musiala, there is unquestionably an intellectual factor to his passing. His body positioning is second to none and when receiving the ball on the half-turn he is at his most dangerous. When he masters the ability to play the ball on the inside of the opposing full-back will be when he becomes unequivocally effective.
With his young age, Musiala has an eagerness to his game and that is apparent when he is required to retreat or defend; he aggressively attempts to regain possession and does so with great energy and desire. In duels he is very successful and his knowledge of the game is so high for someone so young – he is so effective at screening and reading opposing passes with him cutting passing lanes and regaining possession.
Musiala has mainly been deployed as the number ten for Bayern this season in a 4-2-3-1 with him supporting the likes of Eric Choupo-Moting, Sadio Mane and Serge Gnabry. The 19-year-old has registered 11 goal involvements in the Bundesliga this season and leads the Bayern goalscoring charts despite playing in midfield and currently has the best minutes-per-goal ratio in the league this season. Judging by those statistics, it won’t be long until he becomes the main talisman for Bayern if he is not that already.
The German possesses so many key qualities, but one of the main ones is to link defence and attack with his transitional style and quick, slick passing. His ability to move the ball at speed makes Bayern tick and helps them build through the thirds at speed with both full-backs allowed to advance with their midfield being so comfortable in possession with the likes of Musiala, Ryan Gravenberch, Leon Goretzka and Joshua Kimmich. His versatility is also another key factor to Musiala’s effectiveness, with him being able to play in a midfield pivot and allow for midfield rotations with his intelligence and knowledge of where the space is on the pitch.
The German is one of the hottest prospects in football and will surely continue to play at the top level for many years. There is no doubt that he will be centrifugal to Bayern’s future endeavours and success.