He may be firing on all cylinders right now, but Werder Bremen's Josh Sargent always has time to listen to words of advice from older players. - © © imago/Jan Huebner
He may be firing on all cylinders right now, but Werder Bremen's Josh Sargent always has time to listen to words of advice from older players. - © © imago/Jan Huebner
bundesliga

Werder Bremen's Josh Sargent: "Claudio Pizarro is like a father to me"

USA striker Josh Sargent says he is reaping the rewards of training and playing alongside Werder Bremen team-mate Claudio Pizarro as he looks to establish himself in coach Florian Kohfeldt's team.

The 18-year-old made his Bundesliga debut in December, scoring within seconds of coming off the bench against Fortuna Düsseldorf, and he added another a couple of weeks later against RB Leipzig.

As impressive a start as that is to life as a professional in Germany's top flight, the youngster is eager to keep improving, with veteran forward Pizarro – a man over twice Sargent's age at 40 – having taken him under his wing.

Claudio Pizarro (r.) has an important role in helping Werder Bremen's young players. - 2018 Getty Images

"He's like a father to me, but not a strict one – he's laid back," Sargent said during his first official media appearance as a Bremen player at the club's winter training camp in South Africa. "He shows me little things I can do to play a bit smarter, like how I should position my body in a challenge, things like that. I still need to get used to lots of things in the Bundesliga, but the most important is your speed of thought. His advice helps me to do that."

So far, so amicable, but the duo are also competing for a place in the team alongside captain and fellow forward Max Kruse. Vying for game time with much older players may sound like a daunting prospect, but Sargent has a steely determination to break through.

"They're very experienced and when they get the ball, they make something happen," he said. "The coach has said that there are no promises or guarantees, but it's my aim to be in the squad every week and to score as many goals as possible. I personally feel I'm definitely ready to play in the Bundesliga."

Josh Sargent wheels away in celebration after finding the net against RB Leipzig on Matchday 17. - AFP/Getty Images

That he has developed to such a level in just a few short months at Bremen is in large part down to Kohfeldt: "He had a very good plan for me right from the start and it's worked out brilliantly so far. He was very clear right from the off and told me I would need to be patient and that getting used to the rhythm of the games in the reserve team would be very important for me. I'm certain it was exactly the right thing for me in my situation.

"I'm still adapting to the German game," he continued. "The tempo is very high and I'm continuing to work hard so that my movement out on the pitch becomes second nature to me."

Click here for more Bremen news, views and features!