In a wide-ranging interview for Tz.de, new Bayern Munich right-back Noussair Mazraoui talked everything from his move, to his faith, to training intensity (where have we heard that one before?), and his outlook at the club. We’ll bring you the highlights in a short series this week.
On training: Mazraoui isn’t even the first player this summer to come Bavaria to find a trial by fire in their new training environment. Out of the frying pan, into the fire.
“Every preparation is exhausting!” Mazraoui exclaimed. “The German style is different from the one I’m used to. But I will benefit from it during the season...[compared to AFC Ajax] the intensity is higher.”
Granted, this year has also been affected by a clipped preseason due to the December start to the World Cup. That’s contributing to players needing to work their way to match fitness in record time.
But perhaps there was something to Thomas Müller’s famous wisecrack to Robin Gosens after last year’s EURO win over Portugal: “He [played well], but only for 60 minutes. He plays in Italy, after all.”
At Bayern — “one of the best, if not the best club in the world” — the standards are high, and so is the pressing. A physically demanding playing style is encoded in the club’s DNA. It’s not for the faint of heart, but for those with the loftiest ambitions, it will bring out their best — and help them to achieve their goals.
“I want us to win everything that’s possible,” Mazraoui said. “When I look at the quality of our team, we can win any title: the Meisterschaft, the DFB-Pokal, the Super Cup, the Champions League. I think anything is possible with this team. Everyone believes in it, and we must strive for the best.”
That winning everything is not merely possible but expected at Bayern helped make it an easy choice. Mazraoui arrived on a free at the start of the transfer window after his Ajax contract expired, and he had plenty of suitors — Arsenal FC and (surprise) FC Barcelona among them. But the choice was an easy one.
Made easier, of course, by the now well-known closing ability of Bayern’s new recruitment team.
“The people in charge didn’t give me the run-of-the-mill lectures; they were very personal with me,” Mazraoui said.
As for Ryan Gravenberch, who will remain his teammate through this club change, Mazraoui made clear they were each their own men. They discussed the possibilities — Mazraoui was confirmed first, while Bayern pursued Gravenberch in negotiations with Ajax — but little more than that.
“[Also for him], I live in such a way that I make my own decisions,” Mazraoui stressed. “After it was clear to me that I was going to move to FC Bayern, I said to him: I’m waiting for you now. For both of us, it was clear right from the start what we wanted to do.”
Still, it’s surely a little surreal that the Säbener Straße will be his new stomping ground. Mazraoui, still only twenty-four, spent seventeen years of his life at Ajax. It’s very much a fresh start, as he acknowledges, but also maybe an improbable one.
“I was never the greatest talent,” Mazraoui confessed. “I came into the pro ranks as an amateur...without a [professional] contract. You can’t say I didn’t have the potential. But it just hadn’t developed for a long time.”
That potential has certainly revealed itself now. At at FC Bayern, he’ll have one of football’s grandest stages on which to show it.