New Hertha Berlin midfielder Lucas Tousart (r.) was raring to go as the capital club began pre-season training in late July. - © nordphoto / Engler via images/Nordphoto
New Hertha Berlin midfielder Lucas Tousart (r.) was raring to go as the capital club began pre-season training in late July. - © nordphoto / Engler via images/Nordphoto

Lucas Tousart targets European place with Hertha Berlin

Hertha Berlin midfielder Lucas Tousart is out to make up for lost time and help drive his new side to the upper reaches of the Bundesliga.

The 23-year-old moved from Lyon to Hertha this summer but he has not played since early March because the 2019/20 French top-flight season was abandoned due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Tousart, though, is keen to get going again and to take on an intriguing fresh challenge in the German capital.

"It's a league that has a lot of good teams, a strong level and high intensity," Hertha's new recruit said after being presented to the local media for the first time on Thursday.

"I think it suits a player like me, and as a young player it's exciting to discover a new league."

The former France U21 captain played against RB Leipzig in the 2019/20 UEFA Champions League, but two dramatic group-stage meetings with Hoffenheim from the season before - a 2-2 draw and a 3-3 draw - gave him his first taste of what German football is all about.

Hertha midfielder Lucas Tousart (r.) teamed up with RB Leipzig defender Dayot Upamecano (l.) while playing for France at the 2019 European U21 Championship. - via images / LaPresse

"I find the football that’s played here really interesting, and the work is meticulous and intensive.

"I already had the chance to take on Hoffenheim and Leipzig with Lyon, and they were exciting contests.

"As well as that there’s usually a great atmosphere in the stadiums. That's always nice for a player, and I hope we can all experience that again soon."

Tousart says he got further information on German football from former France U21 colleagues like Leipzig pair Dayot Upamecano and Ibrahima Konate as well as Jean-Philippe Mateta and Moussa Niakhate of Mainz.

An ex-Lyon teammate of Bayern Munich’s World Cup winner Corentin Tolisso, the new arrival watched Hertha end the 2019/20 campaign comfortably in tenth position after Bruno Labbadia oversaw a vast improvement after taking over in April.

"We already spoke over the phone once when I was in lockdown in France, and then spoke again when I was here looking for an apartment," Tousart said of former Wolfsburg coach Labbadia.

"You can sense that he has a lot of Bundesliga experience, and has precise ideas about how his team should play and behave on the pitch."

A tall and physical player, Tousart said he grew up idolising Zinedine Zidane, but has been more recently influenced by holding midfielders like Paris Saint-Germain’s Marco Verratti and Real Madrid’s Casemiro.

The new Hertha number 29 says he can play in any central midfield position, but prefers the more defensive No. 6 role. Described by Labbadia as having "a knack" for reading space, Tousart sees himself as an "intelligent" player who embraces the strategic and quick thinking required in the engine room.

Hertha Berlin coach Bruno Labbadia (l.) will be counting on Lucas Tousart (r.) to help the Old Lady to push for a top-six finish in the 2020/21 season. - Matthias Koch via images/Matthias Koch

The former Valenciennes academy graduate also revealed that he was grateful that he had a large garden to keep himself fit in during two months of strict lockdown in France. Now getting back up to speed in pre-season training with Hertha, he is desperate to play competitive football again.

"I want to have a good year with the team, to finish in a better position than last year and ideally high enough that we qualify for European competition," Tousart said.

"On a personal level, I want to get as much playing time as possible and have fun on the pitch."