What Hibs will be getting in Chris Mueller and how he compares to current favourite Martin Boyle
Everything Hibs fans need to know about the club’s latest signing and whether he can adequately replace a potentially departing hero
Hibs have utilised their American connections and sought to build on their current status as the third force in Scottish football with the signing of the American international Chris ‘Cash’ Mueller on a pre-contract that will see him join up in January once the current MLS season is done.
The attacker can play on either flank in a flat midfield or as part of a front three, but he’s a predominantly right-footed player and generally works from that side of the park. This begs the question of whether he’s the long-term replacement for Martin Boyle who is a potential candidate to leave the club with a release clause in his contract which would reportedly allow foreign clubs to snatch him up for just a few hundred thousand pounds.
There are certainly similarities between the two players. Both are fast, though Mueller doesn’t have anything on the lightning-quick Boyle, while they each have a great eye for goal. Boyle averaged 0.33 goals per 90 minutes last season (per Wyscout); Mueller got 0.45 for Orlando City in 2020.
If the 24-year-old is going to replicate Boyle’s impact in a green and white kit, then it’s going to be his contribution to the scoresheet. For someone who is ostensibly a midfielder, he’s a constant goal threat. His shooting technique is excellent as he’s able to generate power without too much back-swing, which helps his accuracy. An average of 42.9 per cent in hitting the target is particularly strong for someone who isn’t shy in taking a pop from distance.
As for the rest of his game: he’s got great technique, a nice first-touch and really quick feet. It enables him to squirm his way out of tight situations in the final third and keep the attack going.
Tight areas of the pitch are where Mueller flourishes. He’s not really interested in getting chalk on his boots or attacking down the byline. He lives to drive inside and get close to the strikers. Though his crossing isn’t necessarily bad as he can deliver with both feet and exhibit a range of techniques in how he delivers, his accuracy (29.5 per cent for his career) isn’t great for someone in his position. That said, it has been improving season upon season and so far this campaign, in a very small sample size, he’s over 50 per cent. Regardless, he swings the ball in just 1.99 times per game, which is less than half of what Boyle attempts.
One aspect he’ll look to improve is his running with the ball. He doesn’t hesitate to motor forward, 2.92 progressive runs per 90 would’ve saw him ranked among the top 10 attacking midfielders in last season’s Scottish Premiership, but he lacks a skill or two to consistently beat opposing defenders.
All in all this is an impressive signing from Hibs. Scottish football is a very different beast from the MLS and coming in during January will be quite a culture shock, particularly if Boyle is sold and emphasis is on Mueller to hit the ground running, but if he can quickly settle then he could easily be the next Hibs hero in waiting.