There’s a belief that once a club comes into money it loses its identity. It becomes easier to spend obscene amounts of money to purchase ready-made stars than wait for the development of those young players in your youth system dreaming of reaching the promised land. Paris St Germain has been no different and with the signings of Kylian Mbappe, Neymar et al Christopher Nkunku decided his future remained away from the club he joined at the age of thirteen.
After turning down a move to Premier League side Arsenal in the winter of 2018 the French youngster opted instead to wait until the Summer of 2019 before joining Bundesliga side, RB Leipzig. The attacking midfielder told Kicker, one of Germany’s leading sports magazines, after his $15 million move “I did play, but only when one of the stars was injured, suspended or given a break. That wasn’t enough for me.” He wanted an opportunity to earn his place knowing he would keep it should he perform and not lose it just because a marquee player was back. For Nkuntu he may soon be that marquee player, after only one season with RB Leipzig.
While Nkunku started the season as an impact sub, his performances against the likes of Union Berlin and Bayer Leverkusen amongst others won the hearts of Leipzig fans and also the respect of his manager Julien Nagelsmann. “He’s versatile and has real quality in attacking one on ones,” Nagelsmann told German newspaper Bild. “He also fits perfectly with our transfer DNA as a young player with great potential who can take steps forward, just like us as a club.”
Leipzig definitely has potential, especially when it comes to forward Timo Werner who is said to be highly sought after by a number of high profile clubs with Liverpool leading the charge. However, while all the focus has been on Werner, who has had a phenomenal season scoring 24 goals in 28 games, Nkunku has slowly risen his profile with 4 goals and 13 assists in 26 games. He is averaging .92 goals and/or assists per 90 minutes played and given he’s only made 18 starts that is a number both player and club can be immensely proud of.
Despite this Leipzig has struggled in recent Bundesliga games both before the stoppage and since its resumption. Going into Monday’s game they had won just once in their previous five, a convincing 5-0 win over struggling Mainz. Nkunku’s last goal came back on the first day of February in a 2-2 draw with Borussia Mönchengladbach, but all that changed in Monday’s 4-2 win over FC Köln. The French 22-year-old put Leipzig 2-1 ahead after 38 minutes with a magnificent chip over Timo Horn. FC Köln had taken the lead in the 7th minute only for Patrick Schick to equalize in the 20th minute for Leipzig
Nkunku was also involved in Leipzig’s fourth as his corner was poorly cleared straight to Dani Olmo to strike home from the edge of the box and every time he was on the ball there was an anticipation of something happening. There is no doubt that Leipzig is built around Timo Werner, but when he does leave like it’s inevitable will happen, having a player growing into his game like Nkunku will be exactly what the team needs to continue challenging at the top end of the Bundesliga. It will then be a case of how long can Leipzig holds onto him!?!