As per reports, both Southampton and West Ham United are interested in Hamburg attacker Nicolai Muller. Even though the German news outlet believes HSV are trying to tie him to a new contract rather than cashing in on the 29-year-old, it’s highly likely that they would have to let him go, despite their general wish to keep the player, if a reasonable offer comes around, considering he has only one year left on his contract.
Nicolai Muller has played a key role in Hamburg’s offence since he joined in from Mainz in 2014. In the last couple of seasons, however, his presence has been more vital than ever for HSV. Muller has been a key figure in Die Rothosen’s survival journey in the last two seasons. Safe to say, Muller is the cornerstone of the Hamburg’s offensive lineup.
One of the most important traits of Nicolai Muller is his all-around ability, which makes him a very handy player to have for any team. His never ending warrior spirit is coupled with excellent defensive awareness, prove why he has been so successful with Hamburger SV. Muller averages over one interception per game, which is quite great for an offensive winger but also shows his determination. He can be aggressive as well, and always looks to pressurise the opposing centre backs. In Gisdol’s system, he sometimes has to track back and help out the defence, which he does fairly well.
Beside from hard determination and focus, Nicolai Muller has some pace about him, perhaps his strongest asset as a winger. He can start off counter attacks with his blistering pace and motor through the defence using his directness and dribbling ability. He is a great crosser of the ball as well, given most of his 28 chances have come from crosses into the box. Muller is a decent finisher as well, having managed to score 14 goals in the span of two seasons.
Muller is an awful passer of the ball. His pass completion rate stands at only 62%, although Gisdol’s counter-attacking philosophy plays a huge part in that miserable figure. Another significant weakness of Nicolai Muller is his terrible duels won rate. He racks up terrible numbers when it comes to winning the duels. Headers, in particular, are the most challenging thing to Muller, given his small stature of 1.73m. He has a 28% headed duels, 34% take ons and 34% tackles won ratio. That’s something he really needs to work on.
Nicolai Muller can prove to be a handy transfer for both West Ham and Southampton. I’d go as far as saying, that he is the less popular version of Andre Schurrle. His all-round qualities can be boon for West Ham, given their lack of hard working wingers in the squad. As for Southampton, Nicolai Muller can fill the void of their lack of wingers, especially with Dusan Tadic constantly being linked with a move away from the St. Marys.
Despite his good performances in the Bundesliga with Hamburger SV and Mainz, Nicolai Muller is yet to be tested on a bigger level. He has only two international caps to his name, which dates back to 2013. It’s very doubtful whether or not he will be able to emulate his game to the next level in order to survive in the pressure cooker of the Premier League. Also, given the fact that he is already 29, it’s only a matter of time before he starts his downward graph.
[All stats taken from Squawka]
Anas Ali Molla
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