In this first instalment of a two-part exclusive interview with Thomas Tuchel, the Bayern Munich boss claims Harry Kane can beat Robert Lewandowski's 41-goal record and says coaching the England captain is "a gift".
bundesliga.com: What have you learned about Harry Kane this season – how is it for you to train him?
Thomas Tuchel: "It’s just a gift, I feel very privileged to be his coach. The guy is super humble, he’s the first out there on the pitch every single day and anything you ask of him, he will do it. He’s a huge personality who becomes a shark on the field, because he wants to score, he wants to win, and he does it on a daily basis. He doesn’t only score on a daily basis, he trains well, he does what is needed, he shows his quality. He calms everyone down around him and makes everyone better by his pure presence. It’s the highest level, I can put it like this, as a human being but also as a footballer."
bundesliga.com: You haven't necessarily worked with many players of his profile before. How has it been for you to adapt?
Tuchel: "He’s a very different profile to all of my other players. He can play as a nine, a fox in the box like no other with outstanding finishing, but he also assists. He has great skills in playing the last pass and second-to-last pass, as well as great link-up play with our fast wingers, so it’s amazing. I always say you learn from your players, if you have the privilege to be a coach, especially at this level, and you learn a lot from Harry."
Watch: Harry Kane on record tear
bundesliga.com: Is that Robert Lewandowski record of 41 goals in danger?
Tuchel: "It is in danger, and no one could ever believe that it would be in danger, but it is. We need a bit of luck, we need the team to keep going, Harry needs to be fit, then we’ll see what happens."
bundesliga.com: You have managed to release the potential of Leroy Sané. What clicked?
Tuchel: "I think we clicked, because we like each other, and I think it helps Leroy to feel calm. He knows very well what I demand from him, and I demand a lot. I saw live on the pitch, the physical power he has is simply incredible. I said very early that with this physicality, you have to dominate the league, there’s no other way you can be happy. We then saw that his best numbers came from the left, so we swapped him with Kingsley Coman during the season. I think this helped a lot, even if he did not like it so much in the beginning, maybe."
bundesliga.com: When you say: “We like each other”, do you mean on a personal level?
Tuchel: "On a personal level; he listens to me, he believes me. The big thing Leroy has to do - we can try to motivate him and try to find a connection to him - is to keep on going. He cannot just be happy with what he has. He has some outstanding numbers so far, but the numbers could be higher if he was more precise. This is the next step for Leroy, to be consistent. The potential, the decisiveness is fantastic so far, but we're only halfway through the season and we have to keep going to produce these numbers in the decisive moments of the season now."
bundesliga.com: After Manuel Neuer has been written off so many times after injuries, were you still surprised that he came back the way he did?
Tuchel: "I'm still surprised, even though I saw him train. When he told me his story about how he got injured and how bad the injury was, I was in shock - I doubted he could come back at this level. I hoped he could, and I’m so happy for him that he made it. He was always very focused. I’m happy that we trusted him, I’m happy that we believed in him, because from the first moments that he felt pain free, he showed another level of goalkeeping straight away in training. The winter break has helped him a lot and he’s happy to be on the pitch, which is so good. There’s an attitude, an aura around him that you cannot learn. To come back after such a long time, and to come back in that way tells its own story. It’s a fantastic achievement."
bundesliga.com: As a legend of the club, Thomas Müller is used to playing a lot more than you let him play at the moment. How is that for you?
Tuchel: "It’s hard for me because I understand how big it is for the club and for the fans that players like Thomas play, and that they are in the club. They make the club special. You’re always looking to have a mix of guys from around Munich, from Germany, from the youth academy and superstars like Kane. Together, they make a team that is loved, which is something special. Thomas is one of the outstanding guys in Bayern's history, he has won everything. The attitude he trains with is like that of a young player. He doesn’t have the body of a young player, of course, nor the speed, but he has the mindset of a young player, and that’s so beautiful to see. I wish sometimes that I had one or two places more to be able to give him the minutes he deserves, but I will never doubt the legend that he is."
Watch: Manuel Neuer discusses his comeback from injury
bundesliga.com: What will you remember about Franz Beckenbauer?
Tuchel: "He was so humble - this stood out on the very few brief occasions that we met. He was an extraordinary person and an extraordinary player and coach. Winning all of the titles that you can win and still being that humble is brilliant. I didn't seen him for a long time, which is sad, and when the news came in, everybody was touched by it. That’s the greatest gift that he had - everybody felt close to him, even if they weren’t. Without him there wouldn’t be a Bayern in this way in modern football, with this importance and stature. There would be no Bayern Munich without Franz Beckenbauer."
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The likes of Harry Kane, Xavi Simons, Granit Xhaka and Deniz Undav are up for February's award, so who will you choose to take home the Goal of the Month crown? Vote now!
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