The 20-year-old, who has moved to the Black Forest on a season-long loan from Liverpool, has had a taste of the German top flight with three substitute appearances in his new club’s most recent trio of matches, but could be in line to make a first start against Hoffenheim on Sunday.
In this wide-ranging interview with the Freiburg website, Kent reveals how he his first steps in the Bundesliga have been going …
Question: Ryan, what do you expect from Hoffenheim this weekend?
Ryan Kent: Everyone knows they’re a top team. They’re second right now, so they’ve started the season well. It’ll be important for us to start the game well to be able to get our first win by the end.
Question: So they’re not an unknown quantity for you?
Kent: Liverpool played Hoffenheim in August in the Champions League play-off round. I travelled with the Liverpool squad and coach Jürgen Klopp to Hoffenheim. That was a great experience for me, and Hoffenheim gave a good account of themselves, played really good football and showed they’re a very stable team. Hopefully we can crack them.
Question: You came off the bench in the last three competitive games. How have your first steps in the Bundesliga been?
Kent: I really enjoyed it. The fact we lost on my debut in Leverkusen was, of course, a shame, but I’ve got a sense of how I need to approach things. I took that into the next game against Hannover, and tried to make a good impression. Same thing in Bremen. Even though I need to work on a few things tactically when defending, I hope I’ll soon be ready for the starting XI.
Question: And how’s your German?
Kent: I’m still a bit limited, but I’m trying hard. I’m studying two hours a week, because I really like the challenge of getting to know a new language and culture. I can manage ‘Wie geht’s’ [How are you] and ‘Servus’ [a ubiquitous greeting in southern Germany] already. Apart from that, I speak a bit of Spanish and that’s a little bit like German in terms of its different tenses.
Watch: Kent came off the bench as Freiburg played out a goalless draw in Bremen on Matchday 6
Question: How have you settled in?
Kent: Well. My team-mates and the coaching staff have made life very easy for me. Caleb Stanko has been a big help with the language barrier. In all the teamtalks, he sits near me and he takes care in training that I understand everything.
Question: So the language spoken on the training ground is German?
Kent: Yes, and I find that good because the sessions should be made for the team, not for me. Christian Streich explains to me as often as he can in English, but it’s also up to me — through the gestures of the coaching staff — to understand what is required of me.
Question: Which differences between Germany and England have you noticed?
Kent: My impression is that the environment around Freiburg is very relaxed. Sometimes, a group of us sits together, has a coffee or gets something to eat. I like the lifestyle and the weather. We don’t have so much luck with that in England. [laughs]
Question: And the difference on the pitch?
Kent: In that respect, I think Freiburg and Liverpool are not so dissimilar. It’s perhaps because Liverpool have a German coach in Jürgen Klopp. I still have to get used to the style that Freiburg want. One thing is very different: We wear shinpads here in training — no-one does that in England. You only wear socks. That was a bit of a culture shock for me at the start. But the first time I trained with them on, I understood why. The intensity at Freiburg is very high. Here, everyone gives 100 per cent in training and through that, you get a good feeling in matches.
Question: Have you already shown your parents around your new home?
Kent: Yes, they try to visit me regularly, but it’s not easy as they both work. When I was at Barnsley [on loan last season], it wasn’t so far away. When we play Hoffenheim on Sunday afternoon, they’ll be in the stadium to support me. That’s a great source of motivation for me.
Question: How are Bundesliga club followed in England generally?
Kent: A lot of Brits like teams such as Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund. The Bundesliga has a good reputation simply because the standard is very high. That was also the reason I decided to come to Freiburg.