Bayern Munich starlet Jamal Musiala may still only be 19 but he has more direct goal involvements than any other player in the Bundesliga so far in 2022/23. Ahead of the season restart this weekend, bundesliga.com chatted to the German international in a wide-ranging exclusive interview.
Your numbers in the first half of the season were impressive, with nine goals and six assists making you the top goalscorer in the league and for Bayern. Have you surprised even yourself? How would you assess those great statistics?
Musiala: “I always have confidence in myself and I know I can score goals and get assists as well. I just have to keep working and be as efficient as possible. When I get the chances, I have to take them as consistently as possible.”
Where does that confidence come from?
Musiala: “It’s something I’ve always had. I just have that belief in myself, but I can’t exactly tell you where that came from. It’s just always been with me and I’ve taken it with me throughout the years.
How happy were you with your performance at your first World Cup?
Musiala: “It was a big learning curve. To play in the World Cup was also an amazing feeling and was a dream of mine. It wasn’t exactly how I wanted it to go, but I will take it as motivation going forward and the lessons from it for hopefully the next one.”
How well prepared are you for the return of the Bundesliga?
Musiala: “We’ve had some time off now and we haven’t played a game together for a while now, so it’ll be important that we start off right, do things right, and pick up where we left off before the World Cup. It’s important that we win that game and take that flow into the next games.”
The first match is against Leipzig. Why is it so tough to predict this game and what makes them real contenders for the title?
Musiala: “We see the quality they have in their squad, so we most definitely want to win that game to have more of a buffer in the first place.”
What made your attacking play so strong in the first half of the season in general?
Musiala: “We have lots of players that are technically very strong and who can put the ball in the back of the net. We can all combine well with each other and we have a good understanding of one another. I think once our attack gets in a flow and we get into a game, we create a lot of chances and then we try to be as efficient as possible.”
Regarding your style of play – are you maybe the last of a rare breed of street footballers? How would you describe your style?
Musiala: “I don’t know if I’m the last because there are many players that can dribble and beat their players. For me, I just try to have fun on the pitch and to be as free as possible. I go into dribbles and do whatever I can to help the team win.”
Who was your idol in terms of dribbling and skills?
Musiala: “Growing up, I watched a lot of Messi videos and Neymar as well. It always amazed me how they went into the dribbles and it was always entertaining to watch them play.”
Borussia Dortmund is currently only in sixth place in the table – yet your friend Jude Bellingham has been particularly impressive so far. You know him well – what are his footballing strengths?
Musiala: “He’s an amazing player. He also has that confidence in himself and you see that on the pitch by how he tries to lead the team and the hunger he has to win games. He has the technical abilities to go past players, score goals, and defend. He’s an all-round amazing player.”
What makes your friendship so special and what type of guy is he?
Musiala: “Over the years, the contact has not been as much as before when we always saw each other in England. But if we see each other, we have a laugh and a chat, and I think that will be there for a while.”
At what point did you realise that the path to becoming a professional football player was mapped out for you?
Musiala: “I don’t know when exactly, but it was probably when I moved to England and started playing for Chelsea. I could slowly see that I could be doing this as my job and I always had fun with it and didn’t put extra pressure on myself that this was the be-all and end-all. I still had school and everything, but I also had the mindset that I wanted to make it as a footballer.”
Was there ever a moment when you doubted you could make the breakthrough?
Musiala: “There are phases when you have little injuries and I also had growing pains when I was 15 or 16. I wasn’t playing at the level that I usually played at, but I wouldn’t say that I doubted myself. I always tried to work hard and there are moments where things don’t seem as good as you would like them to be, but then you just have to keep going and that’s what I did.”
You transferred from Chelsea to Bayern’s U17 team. How did you settle in?
Musiala: “The only easy thing was that I could speak the language already and I had lived in Germany before, but the whole change at the start was not very easy for me. It took me a while to really settle in because all of my friends and everyone were back in England and it was just something new. I played for Chelsea for eight years and then going to a whole new country was something where I needed time to settle in. But after a while, I felt very comfortable.”
At 17 you were already a part of the first team at Bayern. How did that change your life?
Musiala: “You’re in and around the first team and you see all these top players training and I was just trying to learn and watch what they did. Just being around them was an amazing experience for me and I tried to pick up as many things as I could. I was getting dropped off by my mum at training and it was amazing. I enjoyed being there and I was just trying to learn as much as possible.”
Leroy Sane dubbed you ‘Bambi’ and you come across as the nice boy next door. Where does your down-to-earthiness come from?
Musiala: “That’s a pretty tough question. It’s probably how I grew up and it’s probably thanks to my mum and dad who taught me these values when growing up. It’s tough for me to act any different and I’m just trying to be myself and keep to that no matter what happens.”