Following the conclusion of a hugely disappointing season for Chelsea, attention now turns to another busy summer transfer window – but there’s some business already completed. The Blues moved swiftly to secure a £52m move for diminutive RB Leipzig forward Christopher Nkunku, completing all relevant paperwork last December, though the Frenchman remained in Germany for the remainder of the Bundesliga campaign. Chelsea’s inability to find the back of the net proved to be their downfall this season, and Blues fans will be hoping that Nkunku can provide a welcome tonic for their sides attacking woes.
Clinical Goal and Assist Returns
Versitility is a key trait for the Paris Saint-Germain graduate. Nkunku played 17 matches in the Budesliga as a second striker, scoring 12 goals and assisting a further 5 last season. He boasted an impressive 5 goals in 5 matches as a central striker, assisting his teammates on 3 occasions. From attacking midfield, Nkunku notched a further 5 times in 6 appearances.
An overall record of 172 matches played in all competitions with a goal return of 70 and a further 56 assists is a remarkable return for a player who began life in Germany as a forward-thinking central midfielder. As a consistent goal threat from wherever he was deployed, rumoured new Chelsea boss Mauricio Pochettino will likely look to Nkunku to provide attacking prowess from a number of forward positions.
An area in which Christopher Nkunku excels is his dribbling ability and aptness at retaining ball possession. A master at recieving the ball under pressure, Nkunku’s spacial awareness allowed his Leipzig side to play through the opposition press and transition up the pitch with pace. Despite his slight build, the Frenchman possesses excellent upper body strength – allowing him to hold opponents off the ball in tight areas.
Playing in a more advanced role in the last couple of seasons has resulted in a dramatically increased goal and assist output. His ability to carry the ball and intelligence to know when to release has seen Leipzig profit exponentially. Nkunku averaged 2.36 shots per 90 last season – with an xG per 90 of 0.32 – eclipsing new teammate Kai Havertz, whose xG per 90 was 0.24. Chelsea’s blunt attack is in desperate need of an injection of pace and directness – can Nkunku provide it?
Fitting in at Chelsea
With João Félix returning to Atlético Madrid and concrete interest from Real Madrid in Kai Havertz, attacking responsibility will likely fall heavily on the shoulders of Nkunku next season. With Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang set to leave the club after a dismal spell in West London, Chelsea are in the market again for a new frontman to benefit from the creativity of Nkunku.
The key to unlocking Chelsea’s mis-match of mercurial talent may be the introduction of the 25 year-old to the second-striker role at Stamford Bridge. The imminent arrival of Pochettino is a boost for Nkunku, as the Argentine’s frequently deployed 4-2-3-1 and 4-3-3 formations provide the perfect platform for the Frenchman to find pockets of space between defensive and midfield lines where he is most effective.
Chelsea fans should be filled with excitement for the arrival of Nkunku. With another summer of high profile incomings expected, there are enough signs of life to suggest that season 2023/24 can dispel the misery of the season just gone.