People always plead that “football has changed and become more physical”, but to a large extent, as with fashions, it all reflects trends of the past. What has been asked of the majority of strikers since the beginning of the sport is that they should be self-sufficient. They must have the nose of a killer, the finesse of a playmaker and the power of a winger. I think that player in the coming years has a name and a surname: Mathys Tel (2005).
We aren’t talking about a stranger to anyone who follows international football at all, but I think the majority aren’t aware of his potential.
Mathys Tel finds himself in a context that is probably not the most suitable for a young player who needs to play, as Bayern Munich paid 100 million this summer for a Harry Kane who should be the ‘9’ of the Bavarian team.
At just 18 years of age, the Frenchman has accepted a secondary role and is the ‘supersub’ that allows Tuchel’s team to revolutionise matches in the final minutes.
The figures speak for themselves: between the German Cup, Bundesliga and Champions League, he has scored six goals and provided one assist in 246 minutes. The Frenchman scores a goal every 35 minutes for his club.
With the French Under-21s, his figures aren’t far from this reality either. In the two matches of this break (both as substitutes), he scored another two goals and handed out a crucial assist in a total of 33 minutes.
He is certainly a player who makes the most of the few minutes he gets. This level exposes a reality: he needs to get more minutes and become a key player at Bayern and he needs to start getting into the French senior team (otherwise, Germany seems very interested in trying to nationalise him).
The talent and physical power was already evident from his debut at Stade Rennes, which is why the German side gambled on him last season and paid a transfer fee of close to 20 million, but he has a lot more football at his feet than he might appear to have.
Because of his superhuman effectiveness, his goals per minute statistics and his percentiles compared to other European strikers are skewed, but there are certain numbers that give us a glimpse of the type of player we are talking about.
Three of his goals have led to victories in high-profile matches (Manchester United, Copenhagen and Borussia Mönchengladbach) and his assist was decisive in securing a draw against Bundesliga leaders: Bayer Leverkusen with Xabi Alonso and Wirtz. He is not a player who swells with empty numbers.
With his club, according to the ‘Expected Goals‘ (a tool that helps you explain how many goals a player should score according to his chances), he should have scored less than three goals, a number that he doubles. This shows us how effective he is with complex shots, something that characterises the best strikers in the world.
But Mathys Tel is also a great back-row player, understands the game well and has the feet of a ballet dancer, something that may surprise you when you see her body (1.83m tall and almost 80 kg).
He looks like a playmaker between the lines, finding passes that give advantages (among the best 21% of strikers in the five big leagues in passes that break lines) and a winger who is in the top 1% of strikers who dribble and dribble the most and in the top 3% of strikers who gain the most yards with their dribbling.
In this physical superiority and ability to be self-sufficient, he reminds me of another former Bundesliga player like Randal Kolo Muani, but the Bayern player shows more finesse on the ball and even greater potential than the PSG player.
With the arrival of Kane, it is unfeasible for Mathys to play in the centre of attack for his club (although they already have the next great ‘9’ when the Englishman’s decline arrives), but I think it won’t be long before he becomes a regular for Tuchel, starting on the wing and relegating Sané and Gnabry to the bench.
He has yet to develop into the player he has been tipped to be, but Bayern Munich already have the backbone to once again impose their tyranny in Europe: Musiala and Tel will torment European football.
Translated by Marcos Rodríguez.
Main image: @FCBayern.