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Assist king Thomas Muller more important than ever for Bayern Munich

11:00 AM GMT+4 21/01/2020
Thomas Muller Bayern Munich 08012020
The World Cup winner was considering moving on from Munich but is once again a key figure on and off the field at the Allianz Arena

After six games on the bench under Niko Kovac, the unthinkable happened; Thomas Muller discussed leaving Bayern Munich.

Muller has been with the club since he turned 10 and has won every club trophy during the past 20 years. However, in October, he admitted that he was thinking about leaving.

“If the coaching staff see me as a sub in the future, I will have to think about my situation," Muller told reporters. "I'm too ambitious to not do that.”

Fast forward three months and Muller's playing time has greatly increased under caretaker coach Hansi Flick.

Kovac had the false belief that Muller and Philippe Coutinho could not fit into the same attack, but Flick has made it work by playing a 4-1-4-1 formation with both players supporting Robert Lewandowski, and the German veteran sometimes playing on the right rather than through the middle.

This setup has greatly benefitted both Lewandowski and Muller, with the former leading the top goalscorer race and the latter topping the assists chart.

"It's easier with Thomas next to me," Lewandowski said. "He helps me out a lot; we complement each other very well. Thomas is always heading towards the opposition goal, with a lot of movement.

"We always have one player more in the penalty area when he plays, I have more space and not always two or three opponents against me. Maybe we'll play together more often."

On Sunday, Muller opened the scoring against Hertha Berlin before providing the assist for Ivan Perisic to make it 4-0 to Bayern.

The assist was Muller's 12th of the season, having broken the Bundesliga record for the Hinrunde by setting up 11 goals before the winter break. He is now on target to break his own personal best of 14 assists in 2017-18 and to surpass Kevin De Bruyne's Bundesliga record of 21 in 2014-15.

Jadon Sancho finished as top assister for the league last season with 14 and has reached double figures for the second season in a row. However this is something that Muller does better than anyone, having had 10 or more assists in nine of the last 10 seasons.

He also had more assists during the 2010s than any other player in the Bundesliga, with 140 assists in 314 games from 2010 to 2019. The next best was Franck Ribery on 104 and then Marco Reus on 83.

Having lost Ribery and Arjen Robben last summer, Bayern Munich are a team in transition. Kovac was initially tasked with leading the change but poor results saw Flick step up from assistant coach to take charge of the first team.

Despite being part of the coaching team that won the 2014 World Cup with Germany, it is his first time as head coach and he has chosen Muller as one of his leaders on and off the pitch.

"He is important for the club, has won everything there is to win except the Euros," Flick said. "He is intelligent and can lead a team."

This trust has been greatly rewarded as Muller has been in excellent form under the new boss, with eight of his 12 Bundesliga assists coming since Flick took over.

As a result, Muller looks to have put thoughts of leaving at the back of his mind and he even hinted at the possibility of signing a new contract to keep him at Munich for another few years.

"For me personally, there was a period when I was absolutely not satisfied. It's not a problem to sit on the bench. But I think I started on the bench six times in a row. That wasn't an easy time," Muller told Sport Bild:

"But all in all, it was a good half year for me, because I was tested. And I feel I did well to pass this test. That's why I've come out of this situation stronger and with quite a bit of confidence."

Bayern Munich are now back in second place behind leaders RB Leipzig and have cut the gap at the top of the table to four points under Flick, leading to speculation that the man in charge could be kept permanently after this summer.

If he is offered the job on a permanent basis, Muller will have provided his most important assist of the season.