It’s no accident that new VfL head coach Niko Kovac has appointed Maxence Lacroix as vice-captain, handing the defender greater responsibility in the Green-and-Whites’ backline. Ahead of the away match at record Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich on Sunday 14 August (17:30 CEST), the 22-year-old French centre-back spoke to us about his new role, the start of the campaign, his personal goals for the season and the upcoming clash with FCB.
Maxence Lacroix, you’ve been appointed by Niko Kovac as understudy to new team captain Maximilian Arnold, alongside Koen Casteels. How much does that mean to you?
Maxence Lacroix: “I was very happy about it because I believe I’m capable of leading the team. I also really like exchanging ideas with every single member of the team on a regular basis. By appointing me [as vice-captain], the coach has shown he appreciates my mentality. I’m obviously very pleased about that.”
Speaking of a leadership role: you’re kind of the main man in defence now following the departure of Jay Brooks. Are you keen on taking on extra responsibility despite your tender age?
Maxence: “Yes, I did so last year and want to do the same now. It’s true that I played alongside Jay, who was older than me and the captain of our defence, so to speak. Now I just want to help the team win games again. I’m happy to take on the role and will continue doing everything I can to make sure we win our games.”
Following your start to the campaign, with the narrow win in the DFB Cup and the 2-2 draw against Bremen in the Bundesliga opener, VfL’s defending definitely came in for criticism. Where can you improve and what are you doing well?
Maxence: “The coach has a good, clear idea of how he wants to play football. I’m sure that the more we get into the swing of things and find our rhythm, the better we’ll do.”
Next up are perennial champions Bayern Munich, who have already laid down a marker with their recent 6-1 win in Frankfurt. You yourself have played FCB four times so far in your career and have yet to win against them (L3, D1). Is there anything that gives you confidence of being able to get something from Munich?
Maxence: “I think it’ll be a really good game. Bayern have a really good team, but so do we. We have a very young squad and we have to be tactically good and clever – then we’re capable of getting a good result.”
What goals have you set yourself for the campaign, both with the team and on a personal level?
Maxence: “I think a team like VfL Wolfsburg have to compete for the European places. We have to give everything to achieve that target. I also hope to score between three and five goals myself – not only with my head but with my feet too. Bam! (laughs).”