Alexander Sorloth is hitting top form at just the right time for title hopefuls RB Leipzig. - © imago
Alexander Sorloth is hitting top form at just the right time for title hopefuls RB Leipzig. - © imago

Alexander Sorloth on RB Leipzig, Erling Haaland, Julian Nagelsmann, Robert Lewandowski and more

Alexander Sorloth is finding his feet under Julian Nagelsmann at RB Leipzig, with a little help from Norway international teammate Erling Haaland and 2020 FIFA Best Player Robert Lewandowski.

Sorloth has scored two and assisted as many goals in two of his last three Bundesliga appearances, having found the net once in his previous 20 league outings since moving to Leipzig from Crystal Palace - via a productive loan spell in Turkey with Trabzonspor - last summer. caught up with the 25-year-old striker to find out how he's finding life in the German top flight... You have made it to one of the best clubs in the Bundesliga and even Europe. How does that feel?

Alexander Sorloth: "It feels very good. Of course it was a big transition coming into the team, with all the tactics. It was a big transition coming from Turkish football to German football. Now I feel really settled in the team. The team is doing well and I'm doing well, so right now I'm really happy." The goals are starting to flow for you in the Bundesliga. How difficult was it at first?

Sorloth: "As I said it was a big transition, because in Turkey there was not so much tactics. I was basically going onto the pitch and if I got any tactical message it was basically just 'score' and not much else. It was a completely different style of football. As a football player, and especially I think attackers, because we have to be creative when we are on the pitch and in the last third; I think the best way is to not think too much. At the beginning I was thinking too much about how to play in the system etc. Now I feel settled in and things go automatically. I think that also shows on the pitch." You really seem to be on track now. Which members of the team supported you early on and who are you close with?

Sorloth: "You get a lot of support, of course. I think the training sessions are important too, because the teammates can see how good you can be. If you don't get everything out on the pitch then they can still see you every single day in training. I have been scoring a lot of goals in training and doing well there, so I think that is also why people have been a little bit patient with me. So that helps. Then I think it is mostly up to yourself to overcome your difficulties and regain your confidence and all of those things. Luckily I have." How did coach Julian Nagelsmann help you get on the path to success?

Sorloth: "I think the most important thing he did for me was be patient. Some coaches can be really impatient and write you off if you don't do well right from the beginning. He showed a lot of patience and after a while I noticed that, and it made me play with more ease. I was not so stressed, like I was at the beginning, and that helped a lot."

Sorloth (l.) has earned more and more chances for Julian Nagelsmann's (r.) Leipzig in 2021. - imago What are your personal goals this season. Which areas do you want to develop in?

Sorloth: "Right now I want to fight my way into the first 11, that’s the first goal. Then try to help the team with goals and assists. I don't like to put a specific number on it, that doesn't make sense to me, but to be important like I was in the last few games. Goals and assists, that’s what I'm about." You have played in a number of different European leagues, including the Premier League and now the Bundesliga. How do you compare the two? What makes the Bundesliga special?

Sorloth: "I think it's really high-tempo, there's a lot of fast-paced teams and a lot of counter-attacks. In the Premier League there are more teams that just sit back, there is not that much high pressure. Only the top, top teams do that. Here there are more open games. I think it can be more fun to watch, because you see every week that here are some games where five, six or seven goals are scored. I think that’s a little different. Overall it's a really high level and there is not that much difference from Premier League to Bundesliga." For the young footballers at home, why would you recommend the Bundesliga when taking that next step into one of the major European leagues?

Sorloth: "Of course It depends what level they are currently playing at and whether they are ready. I think it's a really good league to come to, because as I said, especially for attacking players there are a lot of open games. Even if you play for a team that's a bit lower in the table you will get some chances and you will be able to participate in goals and stuff. I think the most important thing is that as long as you feel ready you can make the step." Erling Haaland, your teammate in the national team, made his debut in the Bundesliga shortly before you transferred to Leipzig. Did you get in touch with him before joining the Bundesliga to ask about his experience?

Sorloth: "We spoke a little bit about it. I remember when we were with the national team together and there were a lot of rumours regarding me and which club I was going to etc. Then we spoke a little bit about it. I also noticed that I tried to watch his games and when I did I saw that the Bundesliga is a really good league, and I thought it would suit me a lot. We spoke a little bit about it, but also he showed that it is possible for a striker to score a lot of goals here."

Sorloth has been dubbed 'the King of the North" by Norway teammate Erling Haaland. - STEPHEN MCCARTHY via images/Bildbyran Are you still in touch with each other?

Sorloth: "We speak sometimes. We congratulate each other if we score important goals and stuff. Now before we go to the national team we have a little bit more contact. We will travel together and then we speak more. If he does well and scores an important goal I will congratulate him and vice-versa. That's basically it." Is there something you admire about Erling Haaland? If so what?

Sorloth: "It's more about inspiration I think. He shows that it’s possible to do it. That's maybe a bit of a switch in culture in Norway, because if you go back six or seven years we didn’t have any players at the top, top level. I think he and Martin Odegaarde show that it is possible for young Norwegian players to be at the top level and do well. It's more about the inspiration. Of course when you are with the national team together you train together every day and you get the feeling that it is also possible for you." Tell us something about your football roots. How and where did you start to play?

Sorloth: "I started to play for a small club in Trondheim called Strindheim. Basically because it was the closest football field to where we lived, but also they did really well developing players. Almost every year Rosenborg, of course the biggest team in Trondheim, bring players in on contract from Strindheim. Also there is a culture in Trondheim, if you look at all kinds of sports; if you look at skiing, especially winter sports, but also football with Rosenborg. There is a culture of winning. If you do well you can feel that sense that Trondheim is a good sports city. There are a lot of athletes who do really well who come from Trondheim." As a boy, you were also into handball and ice skating. Is that true?

Sorloth: "Yes, speed skating. I started with all those sports, football, ice skating and handball when I was six years old. I did ice skating until I was thirteen I think and then I played handball until I was sixteen. At the most it was three training sessions a day, which was quite tough, but I think it also helped me a lot in my development because of the speed. Also I think it was nice to sometimes get a break from football because I always knew that I was probably going to be best at football, but it was nice to get a break also to do some different things." Can you remember the day when you decided to become a football player?

Sorloth: "It was always I think, form an early, early age, because I felt like football was my strong suit. There was no question that I was going to do that. The first contract I signed with Rosenborg, I knew definitely that then I was going to try to be a football player. I also love playing handball and that is the sport that I miss the most. I think if I stuck with handball I could have gone far, but my talent was better in football." Can you take us back to your first game as a professional for Rosenborg? What went through your mind that day?

Sorloth: "It was really big of course, it's what you dream of. That was my first dream: to play for Rosenborg. I was going with my father to the games from when I was three or four years old. We had been to watch training and stuff, so I have always been quite close to the club. Then of course when you get your senior debut it was really fantastic. I scored as well and then after I scored, I signed my first contract. It was a fantastic week, really surreal, and one of the best weeks of my life." What kind of role did your family play in your development - personally as well as on the pitch?

Sorloth: "I think they've always been really supportive. Both my Mum and Dad, every time they had a chance they watched me in speed-skating, handball and football. Always really supportive. My father of course, as an ex-footballer, had a lot of good pointers to help my development. We always spoke about football and watched a lot of football on TV. We share that love of football and I think that helped me a lot, also in the way I see football and think about football, not just the instructions he gave me on the pitch. He was really important for my development and also my way of thinking about football." Were there any special people who had a big influence on you back in Strindheim and Trondheim - a coach or a friend perhaps?

Sorloth: "I don't think there's a specific person, there were a lot of guys. We also had a really good team from an early, early age and I think that we also pushed each other. I remember I was the best player on the team, but they always pushed me to try to be better. It was also nice not to be the only one to have to drag the team up. We had a really good group of guys and there are three or four guys who made it to the top level from that team. That's really good. It was also a really good culture and we had some good coaches as well, which helped a lot." Even after the 1-1 draw against Eintracht Frankfurt, Leipzig still have a shot at the Bundesliga title. What makes you think you can lift that trophy in the end?

Sorloth: "I think our aim since the beginning of the season was a top-four finish, so I think we are in a great position to do that. I think also it's important to take it game-by-game and not get ahead of ourselves. Always focus on the next game and how we are going to win against the opponents. Then I think we will see in the end how it works out. I think it's not healthy to look too far ahead because then it can get stuck in your head and you can freeze a little bit and not perform at your highest level. I think everybody agrees on that, that the most important thing is the next game." How much do you want to win the title this season?

Sorloth: "It's something you dream of, of course. But as I said I'm kind of the same, I don't like to get ahead of myself. I take it game-by-game and try to be important or make a goal or an assist. Short, short goals, I think that's important." Looking ahead to the game against Bayern Munich - what do you think could be a successful game plan against the record champions?

Sorloth: "I think the most important thing is to focus on ourselves. If we focus too much on them I think it's the same, I think it's not healthy. I think if we focus more on our way of playing and our style of play then I think we can beat anyone. I think that’s the most important thing." What are Leipzig's biggest strengths? What are Leipzig capable of that Bayern are not?

Sorloth: "It's hard to compare it like that, but if I can speak about our team I think we are really ambitious. We run a lot, we sprint a lot, we play with high pressure. That's the style of play. I think we are really good at that. Of course we can always be better and be more consistent. Also, I think we have the possibility to score even more goals. That's something we are talking about now, how to create bigger chances and how to score more goals. If we can do that then I think it will be really promising."

Watch: How Robert Lewandowski scores his goals

Sorloth hit 24 goals in 34 Süperlig games for Trabzonspor to finish as the division’s top scorer in 2019/20. - imago images/VI Images Robert Lewandowski is officially the best striker in the world. What's the secret to his success?

Sorloth: The secret I think only he knows. What you can see from outside is that he is always hungry, he's never satisfied. Some players, if they score a hat-trick, in the next game they will slack off a bit, but what you can see in him is that he is always hungry for goals. I think that's the most inspiring thing and that’s also what you want from a striker: to always be hungry and never be satisfied." As a No.9 yourself, what can you learn from Robert Lewandowski?

Sorloth: "When I watch the Bayern games, I always try to have an eye on his movement in the box. He’s really good at getting away from defenders. It's not big movements, they're small. Always like, he goes a little bit in front of the defender and then he goes to the back of him, so he doesn’t see him. Small stuff like that I try to notice and also do in my own game."