'Ice-cold' Jamal Musiala making waves at Bayern after leaving Chelsea

Ed Aarons
·4-min read
<span>Photograph: Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

Even Jamal Musiala couldn’t have expected his first year back in Germany to end quite so well. On 20 June, aged 17 years and 115 days, the former star of Chelsea’s academy became the youngest player to make a Bundesliga appearance for Bayern Munich after coming on in a 3-0 victory over Freiburg – beating a record that has been held by such luminaries as Toni Kroos and David Alaba.

It capped the England Under-17 international’s extraordinary progress since leaving the Premier League club last summer, with Musiala emerging as one of Bayern’s brightest young prospects.

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“The boy is ice cold,” said the reserve team coach Sebastian Hoeness after the attacking midfielder scored twice after on in a 2-0 win over Zwickau at the start of June. “If you talk to him before the game, he appears focused, calm and reserved.”

Born in Fulda in central Germany to a German mother and Nigerian father, Musiala moved to England with his family when he was seven and spent four months at Southampton before being spotted by Chelsea scouts. Having signed scholarship terms there in 2011, he followed in the footsteps of the England forward Callum Hudson-Odoi in attending Whitgift School in Croydon.

Despite being aware of Germany’s desire for him to represent them, Musiala made his debut for England Under-15s at 13 before being promoted to Chelsea’s under-18 squad aged 15 years, two months and 13 days. He was hampered by growing pains during his final year at Chelsea, and swapping the Premier League for Bayern with the promising defender Bright Arrey-Mbi, just as Frank Lampard was appointed manager, has paid dividends so far.

It is understood Chelsea were keen to offer a professional deal to Musiala – who has been compared to Tottenham’s Dele Alli at the same age – but, according to those close to the player, they “didn’t throw the kitchen sink at keeping him”. Bayern’s persistence won the day, with his transfer making headlines in Germany.

“I’m really happy about my years in England,” Musiala said on arrival at Bayern. “There were a few interested teams in Europe. But if such a big club in Germany is interested, you can’t say no. And I loved Bavaria from an early age.”

Musiala was frustrated to be placed with the under-17s at Bayern’s Säbener Strasse headquarters when he joined, but his average of a goal or assist every 105 minutes saw him promoted to the under-19s after a few months. Eight games later he was upgraded to the reserves, who compete in the regional third tier. Two goals against Zwickau made Musiala the second-youngest goalscorer in the league’s history, with his improved performances a sign of his growing physical presence.

It is only in the last 12 months that the wiry teenager, who is more than 6ft and is also capable of playing as a striker, has started to fill out. “For a few years he was considered too small to play for Chelsea’s under-23s,” says one source. “But now we are beginning to see Jamal develop into a man.”

Musiala started training with Bayern’s senior squad after the hiatus caused by the coronavirus pandemic, and the coach, Hansi Flick, selected him on the bench against Borussia Mönchengladbach on 13 June before Musiala’s big moment arrived against Freiburgwhen he replaced Thomas Müller in the 88th minute. The New Zealand midfielder Sarpreet Singh and American defender Chris Richards were also handed league debuts, with Müller paying tribute to their abilities afterwards. “The guys who come in have quality,” he said. “They know how football works.”

Which country Musiala opts to represent at senior level remains unclear. He captained England Under-16s last year, having surprised staff at the Football Association in October 2018 when he made two appearances for Germany in the same age group. He continued in England colours last year on several occasions, including as a substitute in the 2-1 defeat by Germany in October 2019, but it is understood both countries remain an option, with Germany understood to be pushing harder since his move to Bayern.

The success of Jadon Sancho at Borussia Dortmund has ensured several Bundesliga clubs have invested heavily in British talent, with the Scotland youth international defender Liam Morrison said to be progressing well with Bayern’s under-19s after joining from Celtic last summer. England will be aware that if they don’t act quickly, Musiala could be one who got away.