A winner of eight Bundesliga titles and seven DFB Cups with Bayern Munich, and the captain of the Germany side that lifted the FIFA World Cup in 2014, Philipp Lahm knows what it takes to be successful.
As Bayern clinch a record-breaking ninth straight Bundesliga title, bundesliga.com caught up with the 37-year-old to discuss the present and the future for the record champions...
bundesliga.com: With Bayern beating Gladbach on Saturday, they won their ninth championship in a row, how do you explain such a phenomenon?
Philipp Lahm: "It's similar to how it is at Juventus, they have an unbelievable status in their own country, just like Bayern here in Germany. They've worked on that over the last few years, they've got the best players; they could always buy the best players so they're in this exceptional position."
bundesliga.com: Starting with Robert Lewandowski as a striker who plays with and for the team, via Joshua Kimmich who is who is becoming more and more of a leader, to the newcomer Alphonso Davies… how has Flick managed to improve such talented players even more?
Lahm: "First of all he did something decisive and very important, he gave the established players more responsibility. He took the spine of the team, Manuel Neuer, Jerome Boateng, Alaba via Thomas Müller to Lewandowski, he's got a core of the team and with Boeteng and Müller he took two players in very important positions and gave them responsibility. It’s then much easier for other players to position themselves."
Watch: Bayern celebrate title in style with 6-0 win over Gladbach
bundesliga.com: Are Leon Goretzka and Kimmich the new Bastian Schweinsteiger and Lahm?
Lahm: "Yes I think in the future they can really make their mark at Bayern. They're German national-team players, have a lot of experience for their young years and have won a lot already so I can picture it. They really identify with the club and that’s really important. That's something Basti and I had from a young age, we played for the Bayern youth team. It's very important."
bundesliga.com: Bayern have already confirmed Julian Nagelsmann as the new coach for next season. His strengths are obvious but how will he manage to navigate such an important role and the dressing room at only 34 years old?
Lahm: "He's a very young coach but he’s still experienced, he's been a Bundesliga coach for six years now, he was at Hoffenheim then Leipzig. The next logical step in Germany is Bayern. He's got enough experience, he's a very interesting coach, the most interesting in the Bundesliga, you have to say. It makes sense that Bayern would want to get the most interesting coach."
bundesliga.com: Are Bayern too strong or is the competition too weak?
Lahm: "I'd say Bayern are extremely strong, they're in an exceptional position in Germany. You saw last season they won everything there was to win, not only in Germany but in Europe as well. That means they've got themselves into an exceptional positon. Leipzig, you saw last season they made it into the semi-final of the Champions League so they were very successful. The gap, though, which has developed in the last few years cannot be closed in one or two years, it has to be done over a longer period of time. At the moment Bayern are by far the number one."
bundesliga.com: How do you develop and maintain such a winning mentality?
Lahm: "It starts early. I joined Bayern early on and at Bayern it's all about winning. From a young age, winning is everything. Winning games, asserting yourself. It depends on which team you're playing for but when a new player joins Bayern, they pick up this winning mentality straight away because they're surrounded by players who only care about winning. That nurtures a winning mentality."
bundesliga.com: Robert Lewandowski's improved so much - how good can he still get?
Lahm: "There'll come a time when it's difficult for him to improve anymore! He's at an absolutely top level, it's tough. When you look at his goal return, I don't know how much more room for improvement he's got, it'll be difficult! His development in the last few years at Bayern and his steady improvement, also at Dortmund, at the beginning he didn't always play, he had to break through there. Then he came to Bayern. The improvement that he managed… at the start he was a classic striker, he thought about himself a lot and thought about how he could establish himself. Now he's really a team player, that's clear when you see him play."
bundesliga.com: How well will he be able to adapt to the new coach's game?
Lahm: "I think Julian Nagelsmann can play with a target man. Robert's someone who is happy to drift into wide positions but his absolute strength is his goal return, that's clear. You can see that in his numbers. Lewandowski, with almost 40 goals to his name this season, as a coach you can't ignore him, you have to find a place for him in the team. Especially together with Müller who plays in and around the number nine, it looks like a perfect combination."
Lahm: "It'll be interesting, first of all, to see how Bayern can find some momentum under a new coach. Plus you've got some experienced and established players leaving the club, like Jerome Boateng, David Alaba, Javi Martinez as well, it'll be interesting to see how the first few months go, whether they can pick up points and find some momentum. Otherwise, it's the same as usual, Leipzig, Dortmund can be up there but they have to be consistent. You saw this season that Bayern can falter at times but you have to be consistently playing at a top level and collecting points, otherwise you have got no chance of threatening Bayern because they will always pick up points."
bundesliga.com: How can you stop Haaland and how do you see his future?
Lahm: "I can't imagine that because I never scored that many goals in 20 years! I can't really answer that! At 20 years old he's an exceptional player playing for one of the best clubs in Europe, definitely in the Bundesliga, to be gaining experience at his age but also holding his own, it's sensational. There are a lot of doors open for him, he's a dynamic player with excellent finishing. Where he will go? I don't know, I also can't judge whether now is the right time for him to move but we can all be sure that he's got a great career ahead of him."
bundesliga.com: It's strange because it feels like Müller has been around for ages, what was behind his revival this season? What role did Hansi Flick play in his revival?
Lahm: "That's right, he's in the autumn of his career but he's got quality. He needs a central striker around him, he's got that in Lewandowski, the combination, Lewandowski-Müller is perfect, that's why he works as a predator."
bundesliga.com: How do you think the German national team will develop after 15 years under Joachim Löw? What changes would you expect if Hansi Flick takes over?
Lahm: "Firstly he's had an unbelievably successful time. If you look at the time from 2006 to 2016 we reached at least the semi-final in every major tournament, that's sensational. A big era is coming to an end. There will be changes then, new players coming in, a new influence from a new coach, that's normal. The German national team has always got a good squad, we're a footballing nation, we always bring good players through. We see it now as well, we've got good players, experienced players. We've got players playing in Germany, players playing internationally at top clubs. I'm not worried at all."
bundesliga.com: You're a world champion, have won the Champions League and have been German champion eight times, which trophy means the most to you?
Lahm: "There are a lot of titles which are great, the Champions League trophy was extremely important for our generation at Bayern but I've said it before, the biggest honour for a footballer is to be world champion so I'd say the World Cup trophy in 2014."
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