A return to Paris or a risk at Manchester United
The Bundesliga is highlighting its donor status this year. The German championship is deprived of its brightest attacking players in one sitting. Holland, Lewandowski, most likely Gnabry and so on. “Bayern, on the other hand, is not even saved by the manner in which they dominate Germany financially and athletically. It is clear that there will be bright players to replace those who left. But it’s impossible not to note the outcome.
Moreover, there is a high probability that the best player in the Bundesliga last season will also leave Germany. The best was Christopher Nkunku of Leipzig, who scored 35 goals and provided 20 assists in 51 games for the Bulls in various competitions. The 24-year-old Frenchman is valued at a minimum of £50 million, but Leipzig are still willing to fight to keep him. Although there are big money tops swarming around. Bayern Munich, who will need to fill the gaps, Chelsea, Manchester United and Liverpool, and PSG, who fostered Christopher, but did not see his talent in time and missed it.
Actually, Nkunku was already at a rich top club. He was born in France to Congolese parents and enrolled in the PSG academy at 13. Then he moved to the second team of PSG, where he scored five goals in 27 games. He made his debut for the main team at 18, replacing Lucas Moura in the Champions League match against Shakhtar in December 2015. Nkunku played a total of 78 games for PSG, scoring 11 goals.
Christopher received little playing time, because the Parisian grandee needs names and stars, and it is not easy to break through and “sell out” from a marketing point of view to their own pupils, even very talented ones. So in the summer of 2019, Nkunku moved to Leipzig in search of playing practice. “The Bulls” transfer cost £11 million, which now seems a very small amount.
A meteoric rise
In his first season for the Bulls, Christopher made 15 assists in 32 Bundesliga games, and the following season there were already seven assists and six goals. And that was just preparation for the real upswing that happened in the season that just ended.
Nkunku earned the title of Germany’s best player in the league with 20 goals and 15 assists in 34 games alone. It’s the latter statistic that sets him apart from the rest of the attacking leaders. Not only does he score a lot, but he also makes a lot of assists, which comes from his versatile manner of playing almost any position in attack, including more depth than the classic scorers.
In doing so, he personally scored more than a quarter of Leipzig’s league goals, contributing enormously to the club’s progression. In his first season with the Bulls, Nkunku even played at fullback, moved to the center of midfield, and was a striker at the sharp end until he settled on his optimal role as second striker. This role allows you to use his versatility.
This game, of course, drew the attention of the coaching staff of the French national team, which has enough bright strikers. Nkunku made his debut for the national team in March this year, playing friendly matches against Cote d’Ivoire and South Africa. And he will almost certainly make the squad for the World Cup.
Where would he fit in?
Of course, with the form that Nkunku showed at the end of the season, he would be useful to any team. Especially given his versatility. Of the English teams, Chelsea might suit him best, because Thomas Tuchel’s style in London is not very suitable for sharply sharpened only for finishing strikers. Look at Lukaku here. Besides, the coach and the player are familiar from their work at PSG.
But Liverpool could compete, especially if they suffer staffing losses that need to be made up for. There is no doubt that Klopp will find a use for Nkunku to maximize his positive characteristics. Manchester United also wants Christopher, but that option looks risky given that the club is in the next round of team building, of the game.
Understandably, it’s always possible to hit the flow, and Eric ten Hague could make Nkunka the centerpiece of a new team that will be successful. But it’s hard to believe it. In addition, there are doubts that Nkunku is ready to become the leader of a top team after his quick rise, where special demands are always placed on players, often related more to psychological aspects than game play. A return to PSG seems an interesting option. However, there are also big risks associated with it.
Although Christopher himself said he would be willing to return to Paris, which he considers his hometown. Nkunku’s physical characteristics speak in favor of this option or the option with Bayern against the challengers from England. He is not considered physically strong enough for the APL. On the other hand, De Bruyne, Salah or Son also do not give the impression of athletes, which does not prevent them from being leaders of English top teams.
Nkunku still has a first contract with Leipzig, which he signed for five years when he joined the club. Thus, the agreement expires in 2024. It implies a salary of £30,000 a week. For an English top club this is nothing. “Leipzig values Christopher at 50-60 million pounds. That’s not pennies for English clubs, but it is an affordable sum, if you take a responsible approach to the transfer and acquire a potential attacking leader, not a player in the rotation or “extra”. At the same time Leipzig do not regard the sale of Nkunku as a priority goal. The task of the club is to extend the contract with the Frenchman and keep him.
I do not want such a bright team with a dynamic game as Leipzig to lose one of the style-defining players, but it is also very interesting to look at Nkunka at a top club, in the atmosphere of the same England. The APL has grinded out many strong players, and this is a good chance to show that his rise at Leipzig was not just a fluke of circumstances and a suitably formed conjuncture.