What was the first part of the pre-season and the first full preparation under Thomas Tuchel like?
“I think the start has been good. We are training well. It has been difficult, quite tough, but I think everyone is up for it and it is good for us.”
Was it your first time in Japan and Singapore?
“Yes, the first time. I always wanted to go, but first time here now.”
How was your summer break? How did you spend it?
“It was very nice. I spent some time with friends. “Phonzy” (Alphonso Davies), some friends from England. I spent some time away with family as well. It was pretty good. Relaxing, I trained a bit, but it was good to just free the head a bit before the season starts.”
Did you follow your teammates via social media, and which were the funniest summer photos you saw?
“I don’t know. I think probably of me with my friends Mika (Biereth) and Tino (Valentino Livramento) who were in one picture, where I think it was a funny picture, where it is us three walking together. That was pretty funny.”
Looking back on the last day of the season, what was it like to know your goal secured a last-minute title for Bayern? And what were you thinking coming off the bench in those final moments of the game?
“It is a great feeling to have a big part in that, for us to win a title. I think it is a big moment, probably one of the biggest in my career, but it is not going to stay stuck in my head. The goal is to move forward, keep trying to improve and have moments like these.”
Can you re-live the moment for us here again? What was the situation exactly like from your point of view and how was your decision-making at that moment?
“I think when I came on the pitch the mindset was to just give everything, which I always have. Not to put too much pressure on myself or on whatever happens. Just to try to play as freely as possible and if I have an opportunity to try to take a shot or something, I will just try to go through that situation as best as possible and that is what I am trying to do.”
Looking back, how was the experience for you and the team of such a tight season finish compared to the previous ones?
“First, it was quite annoying, because we want to be ahead quite comfortably. I think everyone at the club likes that more. I think for the fans it was probably very entertaining to see that, but for us, we want to be better this season and we know that our level can be higher. That is what we are going to try to do this season.”
25 goals and assists in 33 Bundesliga games last season were a huge step up in performance from the season before – what is your approach to personal improvement and what or who are your inspirations?
“From the season before, I started to play more regularly and was finding my rhythm a bit more. I think I started the season very strong. I had a good rhythm, then it was a little bit tougher to find my rhythm towards the end of the season. I think I just need to try to keep that rhythm throughout the whole season. Looking forward to this season now.”
You recently said that in comparison to last season, your target is to improve further, especially in terms of more goals and involvement in assists. Does that mean you want to return to your “old” rhythm and always participate in the offence? What is your old rhythm? Had you lost it somewhere along the way?
“I think when sometimes stuff doesn’t go your way or anything feels like it happens or you should, sometimes you are just unlucky, but just to keep trying to be involved in the game, keep trying to have the moments and then the luck will somehow come again. Because sometimes you do need a little bit of luck when you play and sometimes it is just not there, so I think that was the case for me a little bit in the second half of the season. A tiny bit was missing and I just need to try and keep that rhythm. Probably trying to stay in the game to maybe do things a bit different to try to get all of that back.”
You’ve previously cited the motto “play with freedom” as something that you’ve held onto from your time in English youth setups – what is the most valuable lesson you took from your time in England and what has been the most valuable lesson during your time in Germany?
“For me, what I took from England is, what you already said, definitely the playing with freedom. In my time in England, they always wanted you to express yourself and find moments in the game where you can change something and always have that confidence in yourself, which I tried to take over with me when I came to Germany. Here, it is the mentality. All the work rate and the hard work. I think that is the biggest thing I learned here from Germany, just to keep working hard. Whether it is off the ball, off the pitch, everything. Just to keep that mentality. Always wanting to be the best and I think that is what I learned from here.”
Let’s stick to the idea of freedom. How do you combine playing football with freedom and sticking to tactical setups from the manager?
“I think you just have to find a balance for it. I think you have to know the situations when you can dribble and when you cannot. The coach always tells you what he wants from you and what not. If he doesn’t like anything he would tell me or any other player. You just have to get a feeling for it. The more you play the more you get used to the system. The more situations you get into the more you know what to do or not to do.”
Germany has been a popular destination for British talent in recent years. What do you think sets Bayern apart as a destination for top players?
“I think Bayern has a great youth system. When I came they gave me a good plan, which makes you see things clearly, especially since you need that kind of support when you are a youth player so you kind of have a goal which you can follow. You know how you are going to go step by step and which areas you need to work on. I think that is a big thing that helped me when I came here.”
How did you experience the first days with the new arrivals Guerreiro, Laimer and Kim? What do you expect from them and what are they like as lads?
“Of the pitch, they are all very, very nice. You can talk to them very easily. It is like they have been here for quite a while already. On the pitch, they showed their quality from the beginning. Unfortunately, Guerreiro is injured now for a bit. He is a great player, but I am sure he will be back soon.”
The first match is the Supercup against RB Leipzig. What do you expect from them after losing Nkunku, Szoboszlai and maybe Gvardiol?
“I think changes always happen in different teams. I think they will come with a lot of energy, maybe a couple of different players will play, so they might change some tactical things. We are looking forward to the game and to start the season off strong.”
What makes the Supercup so attractive? What is the meaning of this cup to the team and the club?
“The Supercup for us – it is the same mindset we have for every cup. We want to win every competition that we are in. It is a final that we want to win and I think it is a good sign and step for us going into the season if we start by winning that.”
The season opener will be Werder Bremen. How much are you looking forward to it and the new season?
“Looking forward to the new season. We had time off and now everyone is ready and excited to get the season starting strong. As I said, we are all excited.”
The Bundesliga celebrates its 60th birthday. What was your personal outstanding Bundesliga moment as a fan?
“I think for me the five goals from Lewandowski was a “wow” moment when I saw that. 9 minutes, crazy.”
Did you watch this moment at the stadium?
“Not that one. I think I watched Dortmund against Bayern one game before. I don’t know when that was. In 2016 or something. I watched one game and it was great. The atmosphere was amazing. I was there with my family, it was a lot of fun.”