Arne Maier is “living the dream” at Hertha and has told Goal that he enjoys the “torture” of trying to maintain the standards which have seen him linked with Arsenal and Manchester United.
At just 19 years of age, the highly-rated midfielder is being billed as one of the most exciting prospects in European football.
He is now an established star in Berlin and a regular for the Germany U21 side, having progressed through the youth levels with his country from the U15 set-up.
Big things are expected of Maier, but he claims to be relishing the challenge of proving himself at the very highest level.
“It is always a nice feeling to be praised,” Maier told Goal.
“But no matter how much I may be praised at the moment, on the field that does not help me. There I am on my own and every time I have to go to my limits and not rest.
“But I want to emphasise that I like this torture. I’m living my dream.”
Maier’s efforts are already seeing him linked with leading sides from the Bundesliga, Premier League and beyond, but that is nothing new for a youngster who was targeted by Ajax, United and Bayern Munich shortly after his 13th birthday.
“Of course, on the one hand, it was a cool feeling that such big clubs were interested in me,” he added.
“On the other hand, I was only 13 years old, had my school in Berlin, my family and my friends, which is why I decided against a change at that time.”
It may be that Maier’s future lies outside of Hertha, with Arsenal and Juventus reported to have joined the hunt for his services, but for now he is fully focused on the present.
That includes trying to earn senior international recognition, with there a number of exciting youngsters knocking on the door of Joachim Low’s Germany squad.
Asked to name those most likely to make the breakthrough, Maier said: “First of all Kai Havertz [of Bayer Leverkusen].
“I have known him for several years. He is a good friend of mine and I have followed his development closely.
“But there is not only Havertz, also players like Thilo Kehrer [at Paris Saint-Germain] have a lot of potential and can play an important role in the national team at some point.
“Of course, each of us wants to someday play for Die Mannschaft – me too. That’s the dream.”
If Maier is able to take that step up, then he will be following in the footsteps of a player he has looked to for inspiration throughout his career to date – PSG star Julian Draxler.
“When I was young I saw on TV how he scored for Schalke in the DFB Cup against Nuremberg and was immediately impressed,” said Maier.
“On the field he has superior quality. He is a great guy that I admire greatly. In my apartment there is one of his jerseys on the wall.”
Maier may soon get the opportunity to grace a jersey alongside Draxler, with it expected that an upward career curve will continue for a hot prospect determined to fulfil his potential.