Lucas Hernandez has won it all. A Bundesliga, DFB Cup, UEFA Champions League and World Cup winner, the French defender has achieved more than what most could dream of from their entire career at Bayern Munich despite being only 25.
Hernandez sits down with bundesliga.com at the start of the 2021/22 campaign to discuss how Bayern stay hungry for success, how training has been under the club's new head coach Julian Nagelsmann and the French influence at the Allianz Arena...
bundesliga.com: Bayern have won nine consecutive Bundesliga titles, but come into every season wanting to win it all over again. The same has been evident this season - so how do you go into every game still as hungry as before?
Lucas Hernandez: "It's the level of motivation. All of the players are incredibly motivated. We all want to win titles, that's our objective and I think you can see that. We're hungry - be it in the Bundesliga or in the Champions League. You saw that last Tuesday against Barcelona that we were hungry. We're determined to go all the way in every competition. And that's why we go into every single match with the motivation to win."
bundesliga.com: It's very rare for Bayern to lose when you are on the pitch. What is your secret?
Hernandez: "I'm a competitor. We're all competitors in this team. That is our focus. It's the way we think. We won everything there was to win a year-and-a-half ago. We're even hungrier than we were then. That's simply how we are and that is reflected out on the pitch. Sometimes it's difficult as every team wants to beat Bayern Munich. But we know everything is in our hands. If we play in a concentrated manner and perform as we can, we know we will win."
bundesliga.com: What sort of relationship does Julian Nagelsmann have with the team and how has he managed to hit the ground running?
Hernandez: "He's a coach who knows the world of football. He knows how to get on with the players and how to manage players. The most important thing for a coach is knowing how to manage the group. When you arrive at a club like Bayern Munich where all the players are important and have won titles, this ability to manage the group is very important. He has done that very well since the beginning. It's true that the training sessions with Hansi Flick were different. We started with a classic warm up and then passing exercises. Whereas now, the exercises are more specific and no two weeks are the same. The exercises we do are determined by the match we have that weekend. It's up to us to make sure we can adapt to the new exercises so that we're ready for the game."
bundesliga.com: Julian Nagelsmann is known for his love of video analytics and tactics in general. Are there lots of video sessions?
Hernandez: "At the beginning, he showed us videos in order to explain what he expected from us as a team. It was good for us to understand that. At the moment though, we have matches every three days so it's difficult to do video analysis in between. But his ideas are clear. We know what he wants and he knows what we want too. Everything comes together out on the pitch."
bundesliga.com: You have something in common with your coach - you are the most expensive player in Bundesliga history and he is the most expensive coach in Bundesliga history. How do you both deal with this?
Hernandez: "As I have said since I arrived at the club, it's not a source of pressure at all. It's simply a case of repaying the confidence that has been placed in me. That's what I try to do in every match, in every minute I'm out on the pitch. And it's not a source of pressure for him either. Even though he's a very young coach, he has very clear ideas and knows what he wants. I don't think he feels any pressure because he's the most expensive coach in Bundesliga history."
bundesliga.com: Fellow Frenchman Dayot Upamecano is your new colleague in defence. Has he been able to integrate quickly and how is it going between you?
Hernandez: "I know Dayot very well, we got to know each other while playing for the national team. He's a great player, a very good defender. His integration was very different to my own as he already knew the coach well. They had worked together at Leipzig and he knew his way of working, his way of playing and his expectations. He has settled in very quickly. He's a good friend of mine, a really nice guy. He has adapted very well. He's a very important player for us and we hope he will maintain his current level of performance until the end of the season. He is a big player for us and he gives us a lot defensively."
bundesliga.com: There are now eight French players at Bayern. Do they raise the tricolour every morning before training?
Hernandez: "We have been saying to Max, our German teacher here at the club, that he should start giving French lessons to the Germans. Because there are more French players than German players at the club."
bundesliga.com: What is your preferred position - centre-back or left-back?
Hernandez: "I've always said that my main position was centre-back. That's where I played as a youth player. However, when I became a professional player under [Diego] Simeone, I played both on the left and as a centre-back. My best performances were at centre-back. And for the national team, I play as a left-back. But I'm always available to play at centre-back if needed. It is a position I like very much. It's my original position, I grew up in this position, though I do enjoy playing on the left. And Nagelsmann wants me to play at centre-back here at Bayern, but I can always play as left-back if needed."