Resigning as a national player is not an issue for Thomas Müller after the messed up World Cup. He places his DFB future in Hansi Flick’s hands. At the moment it’s more about his Bayern position. Because the original Munich is no longer set.

Thomas Müller sat in an upholstered chair in the Elite room of the Bayern team hotel and talked for 30 minutes about the World Cup, the national team, FC Bayern and his New Year’s wishes: but he did not announce any breaking news.

Not far from the Khalifa Stadium, where the German World Cup disaster began with him in the starting eleven in a 2-1 draw against Japan at the end of November, the 2014 world champion did not announce his retirement after 121 international matches on Monday. Rather, the 33-year-old attacker placed his DFB future entirely in the hands of national coach Hansi Flick.

“As long as I’m a professional footballer, I’ll always be available in the national team if I’m needed,” said Müller at his club’s training camp in Doha: “Of course, the national coach has to decide when, if and how.”

There could be an initial, but possibly not yet final, answer from Flick in March, when the national coach, who was confirmed in office despite being out of the preliminary round by the DFB, announces his squad for the first international matches in 2023. The date, location and opponents of the friendlies have not yet been determined.

He didn’t want to “artificially” stop his DFB career, emphasized Müller. “If I’m not nominated, although I would like to, I can deal with that.” After the useless 4: 2 of the DFB-Elf in the last World Cup group game against Costa Rica, Müller gave an alleged farewell speech to the German fans live on television . “I was very emotional after the game,” he said in retrospect.

Back in the Al Bayt Stadium, after the shower, he announced that he would first consult his wife Lisa and Flick. Result of these talks: Müller is not finished with the national team. On the horizon on Monday there was even the home European Championship in a year and a half. A tournament in your own country – that would be a novelty even for Müller: “If I deliver a top performance in spring 2024 – why not?” said Müller at the World Cup accident site in Qatar.

Deliver top performance! That’s the motivation, that’s the aspiration that encourages Müller. And that after the first half of the season, which not only ended with a lousy World Cup for him, but even before that he didn’t run smoothly in the Bayern jersey. Health problems slowed down the frequent player. Bayern put in an impressive winning streak in the fall largely without him.

That’s why Müller doesn’t think about future international matches at the Bayern winter camp, instead he fights for status and position in the Munich championship team on the training ground. “I come from a phase in which I was injured longer than most of my career. We have a great team here, big goals. That’s why my focus now is to be on the pitch, to score goals, to prepare goals, to win games.” Müller is aiming for his third treble with Bayern after 2013 and 2020.

The question before the season continues is also in Munich: where to go with Müller? “Müller always plays” – this old Louis van Gaal saying no longer applies. Müller has to fight for his regular place. The direct competitors are youngster Jamal Musiala (19) in the tenth position and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting (33), who was able to play his way into the first eleven as a center forward with goals.

In the heavily manned Munich offensive, coach Julian Nagelsmann plans with Müller “in one of the two positions up front, ten or point,” as he said in Doha. “Basically, Thomas can play several positions, but the more central ones suit him the most. He’s very creative when it comes to staging players.” Müller agreed with his coach on Monday. “I feel like I’m in good hands in the middle. My strengths are in the half-space, in the box.”

He also draws motivation from the World Cup exit, which “hurt extremely”. “You have to deal with it. And the most important thing is that you convert this frustration and pain into energy.” Müller’s energy level is still very high. You can see that in every training session in Doha, even if his back is a bit pinched.

After just 14 appearances in the Bundesliga, DFB Cup and Champions League, he has a modest three goals and six assists in his season record. Nevertheless, Nagelsmann says: “Thomas is an important player for Bayern, an important player for me. He has extraordinary skills, especially when it comes to assists, which also includes one or the other unconventional action in the penalty area.”

At the front, however, Choupo-Moting “did it very well”, as Nagelsmann pointed out. And Musiala was playing “an outstanding season”, as the coach praised: “Jamal also played a very good World Cup with very bad odds.” Müller played a bad tournament with very bad odds. But Müller now wants to “check off” what was 2022. In 2023 it should mill like it used to.

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