In just one season in the Bundesliga, Maxence Lacroix has gone from quiet summer signing to one of the best defenders in the league at Wolfsburg since joining from Sochaux in 2020.
Heading into his second season as an anchor in Wolfsburg's title-chasing defence, Lacroix is targeting a UEFA Champions League run and a maiden call-up to the French national team.
Lacroix joined bundesliga.com to discuss life at Wolfsburg, his secrets to success from his first campaign with the club and what it's like defending against two of the best strikers in the Bundesliga and across Europe, Robert Lewandowski and Erling Haaland...
Maxence Lacroix: "We're at home. It'll be a good match. We'll go up against our former coach - it will be a special match. We know that Frankfurt are a very good side. We'll give our all to make sure we pick up the three points. We know the coach so we know his tactics somewhat too. So we have a bit of an idea of how we can set up against them."
bundesliga.com: What are the reasons for Wolfsburg's good start to the season?
Lacroix: "Pre-season was a bit difficult as we had a new coach come in. He needed time to embed his ideas. It was important for us to internalise those ideas as we played differently under our previous coach. He was more concerned with winning the ball back, where the new coach is more interested in what we do with the ball. We had to change a lot of things."
bundesliga.com: What can you tell us about your new coach, Mark van Bommel?
Lacroix: "He has helped me a lot because he played in the same position as me. That's important. He has advised me on lots of things. I'm very happy. He has a young side to him so we have a laugh together. But he's also very professional so that's great. He puts us at ease. Whether that be the new players or the ones who have been around for a while. It's very cool - I really like working with him."
bundesliga.com: What are your objectives for this season? Do you think you can push Bayern Munich at the top of the table?
Lacroix: "Why not? Personally, I always set the bar very high. I want to win everything. It's as simple as that. But we respect all the other teams. We know that Bayern are a big club in this league. But if we can cause them problems, then we'll do it without hesitation. We'll give our all. We'll also try to qualify for the Champions League. That's very important for us, making sure we qualify for the Champions League next year. We'll try to finish as high in the table as possible."
bundesliga.com: Lille, Salzburg and Sevilla in the Champions League. Doable?
Lacroix: "Yes, it's doable. We have a group that is well-suited to us, I would say. We hope to surprise a few people after these games. We face Lille, a French club, which is special for me as I'm French. It'll be special to return to France for that match - my whole family will be there. That'll be very cool. Whether it be Lille or PSG, you have to play to win. We worked hard last year to get into the Champions League. So now we have to give our all."
bundesliga.com: You have only been in Germany for one year but are always respected by clubs around the country. What is it like being so well regarded in the Bundesliga?
Lacroix: "I'm very happy because it means I have worked hard. My teammates have done a lot for me - I arrived in a new country, which is not easy. I've integrated well and was made to feel comfortable immediately. So I'm very happy to hear that there are big clubs interested in me. At the moment, I'm here. It's cool."
bundesliga.com: What has been your best moment in the Bundesliga?
Lacroix: "I've had two best moments. My first goal against Hertha Berlin. And the second was when we qualified for the Champions League against Leipzig. We drew 2-2 away from home. We could have actually won the game but a point was enough for us to qualify. We qualified and that was extraordinary."
Watch: Lacroix scored his first and only Bundesliga goal to date against Hertha!
bundesliga.com: When can we expect to see you with Les Blues, representing the French national team?
Lacroix: "I hope as quickly as possible. It's certainly a key objective for me to play for my country. I need to keep working hard but everyday I think about representing my country. If we keep picking up good results, I may have a chance of opening the door."
bundesliga.com: Who is the best centre back in the Bundesliga in your opinion?
Lacroix: "The best centre-back in the Bundesliga - I like Dayot Upamecano a lot. He's a very good defender. I also like [Manuel] Akanji a lot. I didn't say myself, I didn't say Maxence Lacroix. No, there's a lot of good defenders. I'm happy to be compared to them as it means I'm doing a good job here in the Bundesliga."
bundesliga.com: Who is the best striker in the Bundesliga in your opinion?
Lacroix: "[Erling] Haaland is very good. I also have huge respect for [Robert] Lewandowski. When I played against him, he was very, very good. But I think Haaland is the future. I don't know whether he will stay in the Bundesliga or go elsewhere but he is very good."
bundesliga.com: Who do you prefer playing against?
Lacroix: "I think I would prefer to play against Lewandowski because Haaland is just so powerful. You have to be fully concentrated when you play against him. They're different kinds of players, but both extremely good."
bundesliga.com: What would you have done had it not worked out with football?
Lacroix: "That's the question my mother always asked me. I would have liked to help people. Maybe a lawyer, or else just supporting people. I think I would have done something in that field."
bundesliga.com: Did you do your high school diploma?
Lacroix: "Yes, I got my diploma. I was good at school but I was also concentrated on football. I never liked neglecting school. My mother made sure I concentrated on both and so I completed my high school diploma. Everything worked out for the best."
bundesliga.com: Do you like the city of Wolfsburg?
Lacroix: "It's a high-tech city. Everyone knows that Volkswagen is at the centre of the city. It's amazing for the city to have Volkswagen and to have VfL Wolfsburg too. It brings people together. There is a lot of diversity. It's extraordinary for a city to have so many different things."
bundesliga.com: What are your hobbies?
Lacroix: "I like spending time with my friends. I like going out to eat at restaurants. That's my thing, going out with the people I love. I like listening to music, I'm always listening to music. I like dancing, I like laughing. I'm starting to really get into reading and have been buying some books. I like reading about Bitcoin. That's how I spend my time. I spend a lot of time with my family. I love life."