MUNICH — Thomas Muller has questioned Bayern Munich’s need to sign a backup for Robert Lewandowski, despite the German champions’ pursuit of Sandro Wagner.
Bayern Munich are in talks with Hoffenheim about signing the German international striker, but the two clubs are “miles apart on the transfer fee” according to president Uli Hoeness.
However, CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge would not rule out signing Wagner, a former Bayern striker, if the two clubs “were able to agree a sensible transfer fee.”
Muller, 28, hailed his Germany teammate as “a very good player who undoubtedly has his qualities,” but pointed out that Bayern’s first-choice striker Lewandowski would also demand a starting spot when fit.
“When I am tired it is easy to say I need a backup — and if that only happens every three months, it’s not ideal and also difficult for Mr. Backup,” Muller said.
Ultimately, the decision lies with the club’s board but Muller remains unconvinced that buying a new striker is the solution, despite adding that there is no one in the current Bayern squad — including himself — who can replace Lewandowski as a central striker.
He added: “Of course when Lewy did have a problem two or three weeks ago, it would have been good to have a backup, but when that is only every three or four games, it is not ideal for a trainer either — especially when Lewy is fit.”
Muller expects to make his long-awaited return from injury at the weekend against Hannover. He suffered a thigh muscle injury in the 1-0 win at Hamburg on Oct. 21 and was originally ruled out for three weeks.
Until his injury, Muller had provided an assist in each of Jupp Heynckes’ opening three wins in charge since the 72-year-old’s return for a fourth spell in charge.
Muller was philosophical about his injury, saying: “That is just the way it is. I always confront the challenges that life presents and this injury is one of them. We were a little cautious, perhaps we would have taken more risks at a different stage of the season.
“Everything is feeling good. I am raring to go and definitely ready.”
Unlike Lewandowski, Muller refused to blame Carlo Ancelotti for his problem, saying, “It is difficult to say how muscle injuries occur.”
He also denied there was a lack of intensity in the Italian’s training: “We built a hill [at the training ground] — not to walk up or to enjoy a better view — but to run up the hill,” he said.
Bayern had won nine successive games since Heynckes took over from Ancelotti, before losing to Monchengladbach last weekend. Speaking about the “Heynckes effect,” Muller said: “Since he returned, Jupp Heynckes has won many admirers. He has brought back success and we wish to continue that.”
Rummenigge announced on Tuesday that Heynckes will definitely leave his post next summer and Muller believes having some clarity on the 72-year-old’s future can be a positive.
“There’s nothing to be gained in having a fresh discussion every week. Therefore, it’s good that it is all out in the open and we can concentrate on the essentials.”
Looking ahead to Friday’s World Cup draw for Die Mannschaft, Muller said: “There is of course intrigue there to find out whether we will draw one of the big nations in the group.
“Obviously you can’t pick who you get drawn against. … We don’t need to draw Spain or England in the group.”
Mark Lovell covers Bayern Munich for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter: @LovellLowdown.