The Raumdeuter is perhaps one of the most peculiar roles in Football. Coined and created by Thomas Müller, we can not only consider him the first Raumdeuter, but potentially the only one. But what exactly is a Raumdeuter? Who comes close to being one?
Raumdeuter: A History
By the time he was 21, Thomas Müller had returned from a semi-successful World cup campaign which saw Germany take third place in 2010. He was already making headlines for his peculiar style of play, where he would roam around the final third on one of the wings and look for space. In 2011, he was approached by a German journalist about his style, to which he responded, and coined his own role, “Ich bin ein Raumdeuter.” (“I am a space investigator.”). It was then popularized and accepted as a role in football through Football Manager.
So what makes the Raumdeuter so unique? Well, it’s quite tricky to pinpoint. Essentially being a ‘winger’, a Raumdeuter is also not a winger. He doesn’t occupy a certain position but rather an area. Thomas Müller would sit between the midfield and defence, in channels. But what makes him an even trickier player to defend against is the fact that he doesn’t rely on attributes that other wingers rely on, such as pace, or his ability to cross a ball, agility, dribbling,… In fact, a Raumdeuter’s main attributes are going to be his anticipation, decisions, composure, and perhaps most importantly, his off the ball movement. So theme might be visible by now, the most important attributes for a Raumdeuter to do his job well is his mental attributes. Everything else is just a bonus. Being able to exploit what space he can find is his speciality, whether it be behind the defence, on the wing, between the defence and midfield, etc…
So, now that we understand what a Raumdeuter is, who comes close to being the best Raumdeuter? We already know Thomas Müller, he created the role. But has anyone stepped up to fill his place in recent years?
Dele Alli – A Raumdeuter?
Despite his role being quite controversial in the footballing world, I firmly believe Dele Alli is a Raumdeuter at heart. In game, he can play on the left side of the field to perfection, but his ‘natural’ role is not that of a Raumdeuter. In spite of this, Alli has very good attributes to be able to play in this position regardless. The important attributes are all there, except for perhaps his concentration and his decisions. This, however, is something that will improve in time, especially as he is only 23 years old at the start of the game. In real life, his play does mimic that of a Raumdeuter. He moves into vertical channels, searching out balls his more creative teammates throw forwards. He is tough to mark due to his agility and stamina, and his shots-to-goal ratio isn’t perfect, and his goals aren’t amazing, but he does score goals nonetheless. 42 goals in 131 games is nothing to berate.
Despite not being the best winger in the world, José Callejon is considered a very good Raumdeuter. Boasting better mental attributes than Alli (due to his experience), Callejon’s movement on and off the ball is truly beautiful to see. Although not as much a goal threat, Callejon’s movement truly makes up for that, as his defence splitting runs move defenders out of position allowing his teammates to move the ball around and score goals. Maurizio Sarri’s tactics for Napoli allowed Callejon to truly shine.
Use in Game
Using a Raumdeuter in Football Manager can be quite tricky, as immediate results might be completely obvious to you. You should know that a Raumdeuter isn’t going to be scoring a ton of goals or making loads of assists. Exploiting space doesn’t necessarily mean he is going to be in great positions throughout the game. As I said, exploiting space can also meaning drawing out a defender, or two, which can lead to a goal. This won’t be very obvious at first, but be sure to look at your players movements in your analysis screen between matches. Analysing plays is a very important part of both football and FM, and this process is made much easier by the role of a Data Analyst. We wrote an article about it here.
Using such a tactic can useful for a lot of teams. Here, Müller will be moving around the opposition defense, running into channels and looking to latch onto any balls his more creative players throw forwards. Lewandowski acts as a Complete Forward, helping him move around freely while Gnabry cuts inside, pulling defenders towards him. Coutinho, on the other hand, drops deeper down the pitch to act alongside the midfield partnership of Thiago and Tolisso, who play as a pivot in both attack and defense.
If you have any comments of questions about this role, feel free to leave one down below.
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