Thomas Muller will be left out of Hansi Flick’s upcoming Germany squad, but the head coach has not “shut the door” on the Bayern Munich forward.
Muller is fourth on his nation’s all-time caps list (121) behind only Lothar Matthaus (150), Miroslav Klose (137) and Lukas Podolski (130), while his tally of 44 goals puts him seventh.
A World Cup winner in 2014, the 33-year-old said he would contemplate his international future following Germany’s group-stage exit from the 2022 tournament in Qatar.
Muller has been directly involved in 11 goals for Bayern this season (scored four, assisted seven), with only Jamal Musiala (eight) registering more assists for the Bundesliga leaders.
However, Flick revealed the forward will play no part in the friendlies against Belgium and Peru later this month, though the head coach has left the door open for a potential return with Germany hosting next year’s European Championship.
“I discussed with Thomas that he will not be called up to the games in March and June,” Flick told Suddeutsche Zeitung.
“I want to give younger players a chance with the national team. But that doesn’t mean that his Germany career is over or that he won’t play a role at the Euros.
“He sees things the way I do. As a national team player, you don’t retire. You either get a call-up or you don’t, and he’s now on hold until the summer.
“Why would I shut the door on a player like that forever? Look at his current importance for Bayern. He’s totally important again, and I’m very happy for him.”
Flick also insists there are no guarantees that Manuel Neuer will remain his first-choice goalkeeper upon his return from injury, with Marc-Andre ter Stegen or Kevin Trapp likely to be handed opportunities in the friendlies.
The Bayern captain, and Germany’s most-capped goalkeeper with 117 appearances, is out for the season having broken his leg during a skiing trip shortly after the World Cup.
“The performance concept is in the foreground,” Flick added. “There’s nothing set in stone — Manu knows that.
“I am convinced that he will reach his performance limit when he becomes 100 per cent fit again.”