Jamal Musiala is a “one of a kind” player capable of shining for Germany at the World Cup, Owen Hargreaves told Warner Bros. Discovery.
The Bayern Munich star already has 17 caps for Germany aged just 19, having chosen the nation over England after representing both at youth level.
Hargreaves faced a similar decision during his playing career, opting for England over Canada, Wales and Germany, and the BT Sport pundit says ‘Die Mannschaft’ have gained a player similar to Kaka.
“It’s something that we [England] don’t have,” Hargreaves said. “Every player is unique and every player is different, and Musiala is one of a kind really. He’s so unique in the way he plays, I always said the first time I saw him play he reminded me of [ex-Brazil midfielder] Kaka: just the way he moves, how graceful he is, a good dribbler.
“We would have loved to see him in an England shirt, but I’ve been in that position that he’s been in, when you’ve got multiple countries chasing you. It’s hard because you either go with where you’re born, with where your mum’s from, where you dad’s from, where you were raised, there are a lot of elements to that.
“And with the utmost respect, that has nothing to do with England and has nothing to do with Germany, it has to do with that young man and his decision, and where he feels most comfortable.
“I’ve been in that position. It’s stressful, very stressful. But he made the choice that he thought was best for him. I just think he’s an amazing player.
“He’s so unique for such a young age, the talent that he has to produce at the level that he does and play multiple positions. He could be one of the stars of the tournament, really, if Germany do well.”
Asked if Musiala could be a key player in taking Germany the distance, Hargreaves added: “He’s young, it’s hard to say ‘can you take them the whole way,’ but he’s the type of guy where you can just throw him in at Germany or Bayern.
“People are talking about age but the good ones are ready to go, it’s sink or swim, and the good ones swim. The great ones are ready.
“You look at Wayne Rooney and [Lionel] Messi, all those guys that are just thrown in at the deep end at a young kid and they find a way.
“For Jamal, I think he’s got that. He showed for Germany and Bayern that he’s ready for the occasion. Whether [Germany head coach] Hansi Flick plays him every game, that’s a different question. He’s got a lot of options in there with Thomas Muller.
“Does he play as a No. 10? Does he play him wide? I think with those talents, they tend to find a way into the team, they find their space.”
‘GERMANY AMONG SECOND-TIER FAVOURITES’
Hargreaves was effusive in his praise for Flick, who won the Champions League with Bayern in 2020.
The former England and Bayern midfielder also named Germany among the “second tier” of favourites for glory at Qatar 2022.
“First of all they’ve got a super coach in Flick. A really top coach, technically, tactically, plays the game the way the modern game should be played,” he said.
“Flick wants them to play a certain way, dominate the ball, press high, score a lot of goals, play quite an aggressive high line with the back line, and he had super success with Bayern winning the Champions League.
“I don’t think the team is as strong as it’s been in the past. I don’t think they’re favourites to go win the World Cup, but I put them in that bracket with Spain, Portugal, England, Belgium, they’re kind of all in that second tier. I think that first tier is Brazil, Argentina, France.
“And if Flick gets it right, which he’s done in the past, they’re defensively solid. At the last World Cup they were a mess defensively. They were so open, I remember the first game against Mexico, they had about 80% of the ball but every time Mexico attacked they looked like they were going to score.
“Against Hungary, they had a little bit of that, where they had all of the ball and teams were hitting them on the counter, so I think Flick is a smart coach, and I’m sure he’s going to address some of those issues.”
On whether Germany fans can be optimistic of a fifth triumph in the competition, he added: “Every country is optimistic. Even the ones that aren’t favourites can only imagine. It’s a highlight, you work so hard to qualify. Countries slow down to watch their best 26 players play.
“You don’t know what’s going to happen. I think Germany are always cautiously confident and optimistic. Deep down the Germans are sensible, they know they’re not favourites, even the players, but if you get it right, everybody knows you don’t want to play the Germans in a knockout competition.”