Josh Maja has told ligue1.com that the game in France suits his playing style and that he and Girondins de Bordeaux are only going to get better under the influence of Paulo Sousa.
ligue1.com: How do you feel after almost a year here in Bordeaux?
Josh Maja: I feel good. Obviously, at the start it wasn't the way I wanted it to go, not playing as much as I wanted and picking up that injury. But since then, the new coach has come in, there's a different energy at the club. That's helped me integrate with the team and enjoy my football. I think it's gone well since the start of the season, and I hope it'll continue.
ligue1.com: You're from London, so moving to the north east of England to join Sunderland was already a big change. This has been an even bigger one moving to the south west of France. What was your thinking behind the move? Was there any trepidation?
Maja: No. It was always a goal of mine to play somewhere in Europe. France produces a lot of young players, and young players get their opportunity here, that was one of the reasons I wanted to come here. Bordeaux was the right club, with great players, a great coach, and great fans. It wasn't an easy decision, but it was a challenge I wanted to take on.
WATCH: Josh Maja's first Ligue 1 Conforama hat-trick
ligue1.com: How's the French coming along?!?
Maja: Well, I understand most of it, but speaking is difficult. With a few more months' practice, I'll be able to get a few more words out.
ligue1.com: It's always difficult to settle into a new club, a new country, but things really started to take off for you in the closing weeks of 2019, especially with that hat-trick against Nîmes.
Maja: I'd always wanted to score a hat-trick, and to be able to do that in this big stadium was a blessing. I just want to thank my teammates for helping me do that.
ligue1.com: How do you feel your game has changed since you got here? You have Laurent Koscielny, who speaks English, and the coach too, how have they helped you develop?
Maja: They've been a big help. They came in with their ideas, and as soon as they arrived, they wanted to get their point across to the team. With the training and the video analysis that we do, it's made it easy for me to get to grips with what they want to do and to perform in training and in games. I've adapted well to what they want, and with more time I'll improve further.
ligue1.com: Have you had to adapt your game since coming to France? Players say the game in England is a lot quicker than here. What differences have you found?
Maja: Yes, it is a little slower than the English leagues, but the style of play here is quite well suited to my game. I'd say I'm a technical player, so the way this league is suits me. That's another of the reasons that I wanted to come here. As long as I keep listening to the coaches and have faith in what they say, I think I'll be successful.
ligue1.com: How big a boost is it to have someone like Paulo Sousa, a double Champions League winner, a player in a great Portugal side, as your coach? Maybe you're too young to remember him as a player…have you had to Google him?
Maja: [laughs] No, no. Some of the players have spoken about the achievements he achieved in his career, and it's great to have someone of that experience coaching us. He's doing his job to get his points across to us and getting us to perform on the pitch. We're just happy to have him and hopefully be successful together.
ligue1.com: Bordeaux have been consistently inconsistent this season. You had a decent run and then came into Christmas with a four-game losing streak in all competitions. You seem just a little step away from being genuine top-three contenders. Do you feel that?
Maja: We're just taking it game by game. We think we're a very good side in this league. I think with more training and more experience, we're going to show everyone how good we are. We have a lot of young players here who still need more experience, like myself. We're just working hard on the pitch, trying our best to do what the coach wants. We'll continue working, and hopefully we can improve the results.
ligue1.com: You've got a big game coming up with Lyon coming to Bordeaux at the weekend. It's certainly a help to you that Memphis Depay and Jeff Reine-Adelaïde are both out injured. They're the sort of team you want to be matching and beating if you want to be at the top end of the league, aren't they?
Maja: For sure. Everyone is really looking forward to this game as a team, and the fans want to see us perform and get a good result. We're going into it with confidence and with intensity, and hopefully we can get a good result.