After over two months out through injury, Jerome Boateng is getting itchy feet, but the FC Bayern München defensive stalwart is not willing to take any risks as he nears a return to first-team action.
In an exclusive interview with bundesliga.com, the Germany international discussed life on the sidelines, Bayern's goals for the remainder of the season and the club's forthcoming summer tour of the USA.
bundesliga.com: Jerome Boateng, you've got your training gear back on – can we take that as a good sign? Are things looking up after you suffered a groin injury on 22 January?
Jerome Boateng: You can. It's going well and I can already manage two training sessions a day. Obviously I mustn't overdo it and have to take it one step at a time, but things are looking up.
bundesliga.com: What sort of patient are you: are you patient or can you hardly wait to get back on the pitch?
Boateng: (Laughs) The latter, I'm really excited about playing again soon.
bundesliga.com: Does that mean you're not someone to watch football matches with?
Boateng: (Laughs) That's not for me to say. I'm always very nervous and not the most comfortable person to sit with. It's really difficult for me to watch when I'm unable to play myself. I'm more nervous than when I'm on the pitch (laughs). That's something I need to work on.
bundesliga.com: Does the same apply to Germany's upcoming internationals with England and Italy?
Boateng: Of course, although it's definitely a bit more intense when it's a competitive game and we want to go further in a competition. I don't particularly like watching internationals, though, either. Obviously I'll have my fingers crossed for the team.
bundesliga.com: Have you put a time frame on being back in full training and returning to the pitch?
Boateng: You always have to be careful about doing that, but it could be in three to four weeks' time.
bundesliga.com: That means you could still be involved in all competitions: the DFB Cup, the UEFA Champions League and the big one, the pursuit of a fourth consecutive Bundesliga title.
Boateng: I'm optimistic about the Bundesliga and winning a fourth successive title. That's our main objective. In the Champions League, I obviously want us to get through to the next round and progress to the semi-finals. I should be back by then. I really want that. The Champions League is a big goal of ours.
bundesliga.com: Nowadays you're regarded as an indispensable player for both Bayern and Germany – the reason behind which is your steady development into a world-class player...
Boateng: That's certainly the case, and I'm delighted about it.
bundesliga.com: Can you describe that journey?
Boateng: It's all down to the fact that I try to stay calm on the pitch, which enables me to find better solutions. I've often analysed my game in order to improve. It's not just about defending for defenders these days, although that is the main job. We have to be involved in the build-up play.
bundesliga.com: There are some big challenges ahead in the coming weeks and months for you, the national team and FC Bayern. How much of a role does Pep Guardiola's impending departure have to play?
Boateng: It doesn't play much of a role at all. Some people don't want to believe it, but right now we're not interested in the summer. We've all got the same objectives that we're all focused on. No one goes into a game and thinks, 'in the summer, we're getting a new coach.' We're looking no further than the business end of the season. That's our challenge.
bundesliga.com: You've developed into a real leader. How do you enjoy the role?
Boateng: I'm actually a quiet guy and not the sort to start yelling on the pitch. Of course there are times when you have to shout because of the noise in the stadium and the distance, but first and foremost it's about letting your performances do the talking and finding solutions together. I'm a quiet sort really.
bundesliga.com: Bayern will tour the US in the summer. Do you have a special relationship with the States due to your connections with world-famous rapper and music producer Jay-Z?
Boateng: Football has become a global affair. People from all over the world are interested in German football and Bayern München. That's why I'm looking forward to the US Tour. We've got a lot of fans there.
bundesliga.com: And Jay-Z?
Boateng: It was a big deal for me to meet him. We talked about sport, music and an international collaboration. We'll see what we can do.
bundesliga.com: You also like to visit the USA in your own time…
Boateng: I've made a few trips to the USA when I've had time. There's a difficult road ahead, though. After the Bundesliga and other competitions, I'm hoping to be at the Euros in France. I'll have to wait for the US Tour with Bayern.
Interview by Oliver Trust