• John Gilding


Last week, young midfield sensation Jamal Musiala became the second-youngest player ever to score in the champions League knockout stages for Bayern Munich against Lazio. In doing so, he announced to every football fan what some admirers of his game already knew: he is going to be big.

Musiala is eligible to play for three different countries at an international level. He is available for England and Nigeria through is father, and Germany through his mother, which is also where he was born. Most of his youth career was spent in the England setup, and he honed his skills in Chelsea’s academy.

Unfortunately for England fans, last week Musiala announced his decision to play for Germany at a senior level.

In an interview with The Athletic, he said: “In the end, I just listened to the feeling that, over a long period of time, kept telling me that it was the right decision to play for Germany, the land I was born in. Still, it wasn’t an easy decision for me.”

Not only is Germany his birthplace, but it is also clearly the better option in terms of an international career. Jamal Musiala operates best as an attacking midfielder through the centre of the pitch. At England, excluding right-back, that position is the most congested with top-quality players fighting for playing time. For Musiala’s entire career, he would be fighting Jack Grealish, Mason Mount, James Maddison and Phil Foden for playing time. That is not a comfortable vision for the prime years of his playing career.

At Germany, he still has roughly the same potential to win trophies, but, given time, he would be able to establish a permanent place in the team, and play a significant part in any success. In the meantime, he gets to start his international career in much the same way as he is starting his Bayern career, by being the understudy to one of the best in his position in this century, Thomas Müller.

It’s not like Germany don’t have their fair share of promising talents either. Kai Havertz, Florian Wirtz and Youssoufa Moukoko are all under-21. Havertz and Wirtz are also a potential issue as they operate in the same areas as Musiala, but there is enough room on the pitch for them all to co-exist, unlike the long list of English talents.

The final piece of the puzzle in favour of Germany, is that he can start playing senior international football almost immediately. As part of his campaign to persuade Musiala to join his setup, German head coach Joachim Löw said that he could be in the squad for the next set of fixtures at the end of March.

If he makes his debut in one of those games, he would be in the top five youngest players in German football history, and the youngest this century.

Germany have acquired a special talent here, one that should help to reignite the memories of their best successes and brush the memories of their more recent failures under the carpet.