Thomas Muller admits there was a very real threat of his association with Bayern Munich coming to an end early in the 2019-20 campaign, but he played his way back into favour and considers “quality, attitude and strength” to have contributed to his longevity at the Allianz Arena.
The 30-year-old World Cup winner has been a one-club man to this point, with 525 appearances taken in for Bayern.
He has been a talismanic presence for the dominant force in German football, winning eight Bundesliga titles, a Champions League crown and the ultimate international honour with his country.
Transfer talk has surfaced at various intervals down the years, with the likes of Manchester United and Arsenal said to have been keen on taking a proven performer to England.
Said speculation has always been brushed off, but Muller did appear to be edging towards the exits when finding himself frozen out under Niko Kovac.
A change in the dugout at Bayern was, however, to see him return to form and ultimately commit to a new contract through to 2023.
By the time that agreement comes to a close, Muller will have been part of the first-team set-up in Bavaria for over 14 years.
Explaining how he has pieced together such a successful career, and how close he came to making a fresh start, Muller said on Bayern’s official website: “You need the quality, the attitude, the strength and you just have to deliver on the pitch. Without all that it's not possible to play for FC Bayern for as long as I do.
“You simply have to perform. The club signs a player because they hope to achieve their goals with him.
“Ten months ago, the situation was quite different. Who knows if we would have extended my contract to 2023 then. In the footballing business, but also in everyday life, there are often only subtle differences between different decisions.”
Muller has 196 goals for Bayern to his name, with 32 plundered across all competitions during his most productive campaign in 2015-16.
His end product has rarely been questioned, but he is more at home as a support forward than a predatory frontman.
Asked to pick out his best position, Muller said: “I prefer to play right behind our top striker, Robert Lewandowski. From there I can also get into the open spaces on the edges.
“I don't act as a static ball distributor, I'm always on the prowl. But I'm also more than just a 'Raumdeuter'. My skills on the ball are also very good. But of course, my great strength is making runs with the right timing.”