Jamal Musiala is following in the England footsteps of Jadon Sancho and Jude Bellingham and may be the best of the lot
JAMAL MUSIALA was not expected to be this good this fast.
When Bayern Munich poached the then 16-year-old from Chelsea last summer, they saw a raw kid that could continue his development in Miroslav Klose’s Under-17s side.
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Fast forward 17 months and the winger is now both the German giants’ youngest player and scorer in their Bundesliga history.
His record for the youngest player of 17 years and 115 days beat previous holder Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg by a whopping 136 days.
Musiala has also received his first England Under-21 call-up and could make his debut against Andorra on Friday at Molineux.
Promoting Musiala up the ranks may be a smart move on Aidy Boothroyd’s part.
The Three Lions know they have a battle on their hands to prevent the Stuttgart-born starlet from defecting back to Germany, for whom he represented at Under-16 level.
Bayern boss Hansi Flick, who masterminded last season’s treble, has already recommended the youngster to close mate and Die Mannschaft coach Jogi Low.
For now though Musiala is another example of an English starlet flourishing in Germany.
And, following in the footsteps of Jadon Sancho and former England Under-17 co-captain Jude Bellingham, he is perhaps the best one that you may never have heard of.
Son to a German mother and Brit-Nigerian father, Musiala moved to the UK aged seven and was spotted by Chelsea scout Graham Castle playing in an Under-8 tournament in Southampton.
Saints wanted to sign the eight-year-old but Castle, wowed by how “the ball stuck to his feet the whole time”, convinced him to pick the Blues.
At 11, he attended prestigious, Croydon-based private school Whitgift for three years.
Their famous sporting alumni include Callum Hudson-Odoi, whose brother Bradley is Musiala’s agent.
Ex-Crystal Palace forward Andy Martin is Whitgift Director of Football and coached both and recalls how they made the game look “effortless” with their passing, dribbling and control.
Musiala played as a striker back then, hitting a phenomenal 129 goals in 36 matches across Under-12, Under-13 and Under-14 level.
Martin told SunSport: “I remember we played a team down in Plymouth in the quarter-finals of a national competition.
“We travelled down on the day, a five-hour journey for a two o’clock kick-off. Jamal had scored a hat-trick within five minutes.
“The game ended 10-0 and we called it off with 15 minutes to go so we could get back. That was the mark of the boy. He was absolutely ice cold.
“There was rarely a game he didn’t score. I remember one game where he didn’t and he was so disappointed he had a few tears after the game.”
Martin remembers “quiet, well-mannered, unassuming” Musiala being academically strong, excelling at art, English and, of course, languages – while shunning the flash side of being a footballer.
Musiala, who turned down a three-year Chelsea deal to go to Munich, was called into a senior Bayern training session on May 22 without much fanfare.
He did enough to earn his debut and be included in the Champions League party to head to Lisbon for the final knockout stages last term, where he impressed though he did not play.
That has led to eight appearances so far this term, including two goals.
His only start came in last month’s 3-0 cup win over FC Duren, in which he produced a stunning dribble and shot against the post which Flick lauded afterwards as “cheeky”.
Bayern have learned to rein in their expectations of young players having seen the likes of Hojbjerg fail to match them. Less pressure could help Musiala.
Musiala’s emergence at the reigning Champions League winners has justified his decision to turn his back on England’s top league.
Boothroyd, Gareth Southgate and Co will be hoping that does not extend to the national team too for a player whose rapid progress shows no signs of slowing down.
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