What is a Raumdeuter in football? The role and significance of the position explained

What is a Raumdeuter in football? The role and significance of the position explained

Ciku Njuguna
updated at February 13, 2024 at 8:24 AM
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K. Havertz
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J. Callejón
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T. Müller
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Space invaders are not limited to Star Wars and video games. Football heavyweight Thomas Müller is in a class of his own with his role as a space invader. Dig in here for details of Raumdeuter, a Bundesliga soccer phenomenon.

Dele Ali, Thomas Müller and Jose Callejon in action.
Hotspur's Dele Alli, Bayern's Thomas Müller, and Napoli's Jose Callejon are in action during matches. Photo by Catherine Steenkeste, David S. Bustamante/Soccrates, TF-Images.
Source: Getty Images

Who invented Raumdeuter? By his own account, Thomas Müller is not the best dribbler, shot taker or the fastest player in the Bundesliga. However, his super ability to spy openings in the defence makes him one of the top performers in the Bundesliga. This article dives into the details of the Raumdeuter role and its significance in the sport.

Who created Raumdeuter?

Thomas Müller is the number 25-second striker for Bayern Munich. In July 2000, he made his debut for the FC Bayern München Youth, climbing the team's ranks to the senior team over the years. Over the period, he has made 778 appearances for the team, scoring 279 goals with 269 assists.

Known as the goal poacher, Muller became famous for his self-proclaimed identity as a footballer, 'Ich bin ein Raumdeuter'.

Bayern Munchen's Thomas Müller acknowledges fans.
Bayern Munchen's Thomas Müller acknowledges fans during a Bundesliga match against SV Werder Bremen at Allianz Arena on January 21, 2024, in Munich, Germany. Photo by Harry Langer/DeFodi Images.
Source: Getty Images

Being one of the most experienced football players in the game, he occupies an unorthodox position. In an interview with the Bundesliga, Thomas Müller introduced the concept of Raumdeuter, saying,

“I do not enjoy being classed as a striker. I do not see myself as one. I like to be active in the space behind the opposition’s midfield. That is where I can hurt the opponent most of all. I am a mix between a striker and a midfielder. I am a Raumdeuter. It is about instinct.”

When he asked about which players he could compare himself with, he told Süddeutsche Zeitung,

“Perhaps I am unique. There are dribblers and strikers who are kind of similar, but what am I? A Raumdeuter? Yes."

What is the meaning of Raumdeuter?

According to the Bundesliga, the term was used by Bayern Munich's second striker, Thomas Müller, to define his style of play. The team translates to space invader, space interpreter or space instigator.

Bayern Munchen's Thomas Müller battles for the ball during a match.
FC Bayern Munchen's Thomas Müller battles for the ball during a friendly match against FC Basel at St. Jakob-Park on January 6, 2024, in Basel, Switzerland. Photo by Harry Langer/DeFodi Images.
Source: Getty Images

What is the Raumdeuter position in soccer?

By definition, Raumdeuter refers to a position in football. Given its use in finding and exploiting spaces in the opposition's defence, it is most likely occupied by strikers, attacking midfielders or forwards.

What does a Raumdeuter do?

Defining what a Raumdeuter is presents a challenge for football experts and everyday fans. However, soccer players such as Thomas Müller perform this role by spying out holes or spaces in the defence, particularly in the opponent's penalty box, where he receives the ball ready to score or create an assist.

Rather than being restricted to one place on the field, players in this position have freedom of movement on the soccer field. The seemingly defenceless players freely move into open channels and get into the opposition's side as close as their 18-yard box.

Bayern Munchen's Thomas Müller (r) battles for the ball against Matthias Bader (l).
Bayern Munchen's Thomas Müller (red) battles for the ball against Matthias Bader of SV Darmstadt 98 during a match at Allianz Arena on October 28, 2023, in Germany. Photo by Sebastian Widmann.
Source: Getty Images

What are the best traits for Raumdeuter?

According to Football Manager 23, these players use creativity to move forward into the opposition's den. Space interpreters use their field spatial awareness to beat their opponents and score points.

Expert space invaders such as Müller have honed various skills, such as the ability to anticipate and move into open channels. In addition to acceleration and stamina, these players require a mastery of first touch, crossing, dribbling, and finishing skills.

Why is there no room for Raumdeuter in the Premier League?

The Raumdeuter role is not classified among the traditional or official football positions. Space interpreters like Bruno Fernandes evolved into False 9 strikers or Shadow Strikers in the Premier League. With the risk of injury, the physical needs of the role wear out space invaders, such as in the case of Dele Alli.

Dele Alli (l) of Besiktas and Ferdi Kadioglu (r) of Fenerbahce battle for the bal
Dele Alli (l) of Besiktas and Ferdi Kadioglu (r) of Fenerbahce battle for the ball at Vodafone Park Stadium on October 2, 2022, in Istanbul, Turkey. Photo by Seskim Photo/MB Media.
Source: Getty Images

Who is the best Raumdeuter in football?

Is Müller the only Raumdeuter? Several other players have stood out for their skills, such as German attacking midfielder Kai Havertz and the Ghost of the Penalty Box Gerd Müller. Here is a list of footballers with the best Raumdeuter play records.

José Callejón

According to Dictate the Game, Spanish footballer José Callejón is one of the best Raumdeuter players. The number 9 right winger at Granada CF is the 2013/14 top goalscorer.

  • Full name: José María Callejón Bueno
  • Date of birth: 11 February 1987
  • Age: 37 years old as of February 2023
  • Place of birth: Motril, Spain
  • Current club: Granada CF, Spanish national football team
Jose Callejon of Granada CF (l) and Francisco Garcia of Burgos CF (r) battle for the ball
Jose Callejon of Granada CF (l) and Francisco Garcia of Burgos CF (r) battle for the ball during a La Liga match on December 11, 2022, in Spain. Photo by Fermin Rodriguez/Quality Sport Images.
Source: Getty Images

Thomas Müller

Is Thomas Müller's position a Raumdeuter? By his own admission, Thomas Müller's standing as a space invader can not be defined by classic football positions. In addition to determining the post, top scorers such as Robert Lewandowski have benefited from the space invader's assists.

  • Full name: Thomas Müller
  • Date of birth: 13 September 1989
  • Age: 34 years old as of February 2023
  • Place of birth: Weilheim in Oberbayern, Germany
  • Current club: FC Bayern Munich, Germany's national football team
Bayern's Thomas Müller controls the ball during a match.
Bayern's Thomas Müller (in black) controls the ball during a match against VfL Wolfsburg at Volkswagen Arena on December 20, 2023, in Wolfsburg, Germany. Photo by Marvin Ibo Guengoer/GES Sportfoto.
Source: Getty Images

Kai Havertz

On July 1, 2023, Harvetz joined Arsenal FC's squad under Spanish manager Mikel Arteta. According to various publications, the German attacking midfielder was signed on to play the role of a space interpreter.

  • Full name: Kai Lukas Havertz
  • Date of birth: 11 June 1999
  • Age: 24 years old as of February 2024
  • Place of birth: Aachen, Germany
  • Current club: Arsenal FC, Germany's national football team

Final word

The Raumdeuter is a hybrid role played by creative players. The ability to outsmart defensive tactics makes them some of the most desired chance creators.

READ MORE: What is the hardest position in soccer, and why is it considered the most difficult position to play?

Sports Brief published a report on the most challenging positions in football. Each position in football carries a degree of difficulty, with goal scorers and goal stoppers holding the most pressure in a match.

The article extensively describes the most difficult positions and the players who have dominated them. Click on the link above for details of the most complex football positions to play.

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Ciku Njuguna
Ciku Njuguna is a journalist with 3 year’s experience in content creation based in Kenya. She currently covers sports personnel as well as team biographies.