With three goals and three assists in as many competitive starts so far in 2019/20, Marcel Sabitzer is feeling the full benefit of the Julian Nagelsmann effect at RB Leipzig.
Ahead of unbeaten Leipzig's trip to Borussia Mönchengladbach, the 25-year-old Austrian winger spoke to bundesliga.com about life under Nagelsmann, Die Roten Bullen's aims for the season, his famous beat-dropping Instagram follower, best friends and much more besides...
bundesliga.com: How do you explain your good form to start the season? What role did Julian Nagelsmann's pre-season play in that?
Marcel Sabitzer: "The coach plays a role of course, or the new system does. It suits me very well. From day one, I have really enjoyed implementing what the coach demands of us. There are lots of new things to learn, but the direction we are going and the way we want to play suits me very well. That may also explain why things are going well for me personally at the moment."
bundesliga.com: How well does Julian Nagelsmann get on with the team? And with you personally?
Sabitzer: "It is different from recent years. He's young, dynamic, full of life and he exudes that every day when you see him. He strikes a good balance between having fun while also expecting a lot from us out on the pitch. That is where the fun stops to some extent. But we know that and we have adjusted well to that. The relationship works very well."
bundesliga.com: What is Julian Nagelsmann's playing style?
Sabitzer: "I don’t want to say too much, we keep our ideas and playing style secret. But like I said, the coach has a unique perception of football. He is very detailed in his approach in terms of how he sees situations on the pitch. He shows us very clearly using video analysis what we need to do. I will leave it at that."
bundesliga.com: What are RB Leipzig's aims for the season?
Sabitzer: "We don’t want to do any worse than we did last year. That has to be our aim. We want to improve, we will see how far our journey goes. We are certainly hungry, but we know that we have a lot of tough matches to come this season with Champions League and the cup. We will have to see how everything pans out. But we will try our best to be right at the top all season."
Watch: Marcel Sabitzer scored one and assisted three in Leipzig's Matchday 1 win over Union Berlin
bundesliga.com: And what are your personal aims for the season?
Sabitzer: "The main aim is always to stay healthy. That is the most important thing for a footballer. I always want to play – if possible, every game. And personally, to be more dangerous in front of goal than last year. That has worked out so far, but I want to push on."
bundesliga.com: Five of the six new arrivals at the club are between the ages of 18 and 21. What can the younger lads learn from you?
Sabitzer: "Perhaps not straight away, but the boys will look up to the older players to see how they handle themselves and what they do in certain situations on the pitch. If the boys ever have any questions at all, we are always available. But everyone is enough of a professional to know what they have to do. If something is not as it should be, they will be told. But we have good lads. It can be a bit shocking when you see the birth dates of some of the players, especially those born in 1999 or 2000. If you are born in 1994 you are somewhat of an old boy."
bundesliga.com: Who is your best friend in the team and why?
Sabitzer: "There are a few, but Kevin [Kampl], Timo [Werner], Koni [Laimer] and Diego [Demme] I would say. We spend a lot of time together in town and go for meals together. Our friends get along well too so I would say those four."
bundesliga.com: You are a very versatile attacking player. Do you prefer playing on the right wing or through the middle?
Sabitzer: "It depends on the opposition and the match. The coach sees me on the right, sometimes in a more offensive position and sometimes in a more defensive one. Ultimately, I enjoy playing in both positions. Last year I played predominantly in a more defensive position where it was harder to join in attacks. I have the feeling that I will be able to attack a bit more this season. I am almost always involved in our moves going forward now."
bundesliga.com: What elements of your game are working well in your opinion, and what ones are not?
Sabitzer: "The summary is that our work without the ball will always be key to our success. We can press well and also look to win back the ball immediately after losing it. That has set us apart over recent years and we want to keep doing that. But we are adding to our game with the ball, and the manager expects a lot of us in that regard. Particularly from the defenders and the midfielders, in terms of positioning but also the quality of the passes. We have room for improvement, but if you look at the first two games of the season, I think we have done a good job so far in a short period of time."
bundesliga.com: Why do you and Leipzig enjoy playing against Borussia Mönchengladbach so much?
Sabitzer: "Good question. Perhaps because Gladbach also like to play attacking football and that suits us. But the games between us have always been very tight, and the small details have decided who leaves the pitch victorious. But we have to remember that the past does not matter. Gladbach are a new team with a new coach – they have a lot of quality. We will set ourselves up to face them and try to get the win again."
bundesliga.com: You have crossed paths with Gladbach head coach Marco Rose in the past, how well do you know him and are you in contact with each other at all?
Sabitzer: "We are not in contact, no. But we saw each other once or twice in Salzburg and for a Europa League match last year. We spoke a bit and I congratulated him on his personal and on his team’s success. He will go far, also with Gladbach. But he is more than welcome to set up his team badly against us."