Luiz Gustavo joined Bayern from Hoffenheim in early January, some three weeks ago. The 23-year-old Brazilian made his Munich debut as a sub in Wolfsburg last weekend, and could take to the Allianz Arena turf for the first time when FCB face Kaiserslautern on Saturday. The Bayern Magazin club journal interviewed Gustavo prior to the match, and fcbayern.de publishes excerpts here.
Luiz, welcome to Munich. What are your first impressions of FC Bayern?
Luiz Gustavo: Very, very good ones. There’s so much quality in the team, the players are all incredibly friendly, and the training facility is unbelievable, with the pitches in terrific condition. Bayern is one of the world’s biggest clubs – although I knew that before signing. I’m glad to be here.
Have you had a chance to look around the city yet?
I’m still living in a city-centre hotel, so yes, I’ve had a look around. It's really magnificent – and you can’t compare it to Sinsheim, where I’ve spent the last few years.
Do you like the urban bustle?
I’m actually more of a quiet type. I’ve viewed a couple of apartments, a little bit out of the centre. We do so much travelling, so I like it to be peaceful and quiet when I do get home.
You were an important player for Hoffenheim, but not perhaps as well known as the club’s strikers. Could you tell the FCB fans a bit about yourself?
Of course. I grew up in the small town of Pindamonhangaba, about 90 minutes from Sao Paulo. I tried my luck with a few bigger clubs at a young age, but I missed my family and kept coming home. My mother died when I was 16 – and I’d just signed my first pro contract. She’d always dreamed of me making it as a player, so after her death, I tried even harder to succeed, specially for her. I played in the Brazilian second division, before I was loaned to Hoffenheim in 2007 when I was still 19. The club bought me a year later.
Unlike many Brazilians, you speak excellent German. Why’s that?
Hoffenheim laid on two German lessons a week for me as soon as I arrived. And Sinsheim is a small place, so my team-mate Carlos Eduardo and I were the only Brazilians. We had to learn German to get along with the folk there.
You’ve said you admire the German mentality. What did you mean by that?
Discipline, punctuality, and the way people always behave properly and honestly. If you agree something with someone here, it’s honoured, whether it’s an invitation to dinner or a contract. Unfortunately, it’s not like that in Brazil.
In any case, isn’t your playing style more like a German than a Brazilian?
True enough (laughs). But hey, that’s’ the way I play. I’m always fired up and give everything. I was like that in Brazil, and I’ve kept on learning in Germany. I could probably pull off a few tricks with the ball, but it’s not my style. I prefer things simple but effective.
After your first week of training in Qatar you were pretty exhausted. Is the training programme at Bayern harder than in Hoffenheim?
It's not harder, it’s different. There’s so much more quality, and we almost always work with the ball. There’s not so much running, just matches at full pace. And I didn’t really get a break in mid-season, because I didn’t know if I’d be coming to Munich or staying in Hoffenheim. We were always given a training plan for the winter break, which I pretty much completed as usual. So I basically ended up with only two days in which to relax.
You’re a defensive all-rounder, but what’s your favourite position?
Ideally I’ll play in midfield, although where doesn’t matter. I mainly played defensively in Hoffenheim, but I can get forward as well.
Is versatility your greatest strength?
I think I’m mentally very strong. I’m mentally ready for anything. I’m also fit, and I always try and give it my best shot. I don’t like losing, so I feel very much at home with Bayern.