In addition to intense training in Neurippin, media duties are also on the schedule for Hertha’s players. This time, herthabsc.de spoke to Ondrej Duda and Marko Grujić.
Ondrej Duda on…
… his contract extension: I am very happy about it. It is a great feeling that everyone at the club believes in me, even though it wasn’t easy for me in my first year here, mostly because of the injuries. For me it was a rollercoaster ride. I’m very grateful to Hertha for the trust in me. I heard that other clubs were interested in me but there was nothing concrete. The decision to stay here was an easy one to make.
… his character: Off the pitch I am a lot more calm, but on it I’m much more aggressive and ambitious. I always want to win – sometimes that means crossing boundaries and being a bit dirty, just like Vedo for example. However, you always have to know where to draw the line.
… his relationship with Salomon Kalou: He is a funny guy. He’s just always up for a joke. Of course he helped me a lot last season, picking me up and motivating me. I don’t just get along with Sala, but also with guys like Karim and Vedo. I like every one of my teammates.
… Marko Grujić’s new loan deal: I’m very happy for him. We need him – he is a good player. It would be really nice if he stays here beyond this season too. Everything is possible.
… new head coach Ante Čović: It’s still very early to talk about changes or to make comparisons between Ante and Pál, and that’s not what I want to do. Ante is definitely a good communicator and speaks to us a lot, which I really like – it is also what the younger players need. Also, we need to get to know each other. We’ve already had a few meetings where Ante has told us what formations he wants to play and the kind of football he wants to see. That is definitely important because as a player you need to know what he expects of you. It makes a good impression.
Marko Grujić on…
… the extension of his loan deal at Hertha BSC: I was in contact with Ante, my agent and the Liverpool representatives throughout summer. It was clear to me at the end of last season that I wanted to stay here. The rest was up to the two clubs to decide. I have a contract in Liverpool and we decided that another year in the Bundesliga would be good for me. I want to build on the positives from last season and do better at the things that we didn’t manage last season. I’m sure that we can get even better.
... discussions with Jürgen Klopp: We met up and chatted at the end of May before the Champions League final. He believed I still had a long way to go in my development. Last season was good but there were a lot of things I could have done better. Now it’s up to me to live up to my claims, secure a place in the team and get the results we want together.
... the role of Ante Čović: Last year he was the first one to call me. He told me that Hertha were looking for a player of my style for midfield and the club would be able to help him achieve my goals. At the same time, I could help the club too. It was a similar situation this season. When he became the head coach, he told me that he would like to have me in Berlin again and that we could achieve a lot. He also explained that he wants to play attacking, possession-based football. I found myself in these ideas.
… Ante Čović as a coach: Ante understands a lot about football, especially when you’re in possession, the play through the middle and also on the flanks. Therefore, we have a lot of options as a team. At the moment we are in the early stages and it’s all about getting in good shape physically. The tactics and styles will follow afterwards.
...his opportunity to improve: Naturally, every young player has weaknesses in their game and that’s what I’m working on. It is also about staying as healthy as possible – I missed a few matches last season because of that. If you are healthy, you can continue to improve both tactically and as a player. As a central midfielder I have both attacking and defensive duties. I'm doing the right things in attack but know I can improve defensively.
...the delight at staying in Berlin: I was very surprised at how loud the applause was when the stadium announcer called my name at our opening training session of the pre-season. I really didn't expect that. That proved to me that I made the right decision to stay in Berlin.