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What is the raumdeuter position in football, roles and best players



A term that has entered the lexicon of football in recent years is “raumdeuter”, which is a German which means either space investigator or space interpreter.

The man who is credited with inventing it is Thomas Müller of Bayern Munich, and the German national team, who was trying to find a label to describe his unique style of play.


He himself would argue that a “raumdeuter” is not so much a position as a role that a particular player has within a team. Not a striker in the conventional sense, but not an attacking midfielder either, instead something of a hybrid between the two.


The role itself will often see a player start wide, but then move into more central areas looking to exploit space and their superior understanding of the game. The unconventionality of the role makes it hard for defenders to mark, and, in attempting to do so, they will often find themselves pulled out of position.

That, in turn, creates gaps which other attackers can then fill.

Lionel Messi

Playing with a raumdeuter, though, needs certain tactical tweaks elsewhere in the side. In the first lace, there needs to be a defensive midfielder to provide protection further back. It also requires a team to play with overlapping full-backs because otherwise a team can become very narrow, with little width.


Müller himself, is not noted for his defensive work, and is not a particularly effective presser from the front. And that can create problems, when teams hit them quickly on the counter-attack.

Needless to say, it is a role that few can fulfil effectively, because it takes a high degree of football intelligence to understand what it entails. In some ways, it can be a luxury position, and those managers wedded to rigid systems, might distrust those who play it.


There certainly is no possibility of having two such players in a team. Unorthodoxy can only go so far before it actually becomes a hindrance.

Arguably, there is only one “raumdeuter” and that is Müller himself. There are other players that have shown certain aspects of the role, but few have the unique skill set of the German himself.


Best players 


Thomas Müller

Müller deserves to top the list, because he is a “raumdeuter’’ par excellence. He is one of the few players to have assisted and scored more than 400 goals for a single club, yet he is not the most technically gifted player that Bayern have or the fastest or best finisher either.

But his almost unique ability to pop up where least expected in the attacking third of the field, means that he continues to be one of the first name on the team sheet for the German champions.


One thing that has helped Müller is his timing. He rarely is caught offside, and, although not blessed with great pace, he does have exceptional movement, which means that he is often able to ghost into areas without defenders picking him up.

One aspect of his game that has been praised by various coaches is that he is not concerned with the aesthetics of the game, with his focus more on the practicalities. He is constantly thinking about where he can find space, and also devising ways to score.

Read: Top 11 best box to box midfielders in the world

Roberto Firmino



When Roberto Firmino leaves Liverpool at the end of this season, it will be the end of an era, as one of the most successful Brazilians that the Premier League has seen as he prepares to depart for pastures new.


Arguably a very under-rated player, who sometimes drifts in and out of games, Firmino rarely is to be found in a central position. Instead he drops deep, sometimes becoming like another midfielder, and other times dragging opponents out of position.


Sometimes regarded almost as a false nine, he can still get more than his fair share of goals. He holds the record for the most scored by a Brazilian in the Premier League era, and, in the 2017/2018 season, he found the net 27 times.

Unusually Firmino presses more than somebody in his position would normally do, no doubt due to the influence of his Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp.


Dele Alli

It is easy to forget, given the car crash that his career has become, how highly rated Dele Ali was at one stage when he played for Tottenham under Mauricio Pochettino.

There he acquired the reputation as a free scoring midfielder who would arrive late in the area, able to find space in condensed areas of the pitch. He scored 18 Premier League goals in the 2016/2017 season, and he created plenty of chances for others, with Harry Kane one of the main beneficiaries.

However, when Pochettino went to be replaced by the less tactically flexible Jose Mourinho, Ali began to suffer, and with his lazy attitude in training not helping his cause either, his time in North London was soon up.


Lionel Messi

Although not a “raumdeuter” in a conventional sense, Lionel Messi has played in a position akin to that when he was at Barcelona. There he would start wide, nearly always on the right side, and then cut inside on his left foot, where his dribbling ability would enable him to get past players and open up space for other team mates to expand.


José Callejon

Spanish striker José Gallejon, who is now with Granada, played in a position similar to Müller whilst he was with Napoli, where he spent seven seasons.

Somebody who was capable of playing in any position anywhere along the front line, he would usually play off a central striker, acting as a link between the midfield and attackers.

Capable of both creating and scoring goals himself, with one of his main attributes his ability to make attacking runs behind defenders, and into space from deeper or wider areas.



Arguably, Muller invented the term “raumdeuter” because there was no other word in the football vocabulary to define what he did. What remains to be seen is if the role can continue once he is no longer there to fulfil it.

I'm a sports enthusiast, love writing about football. I have been writing about top teams in Europe, the Premier League and La Liga.

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