DECRYPTION – If his team has alternated between good and bad since the start of the season, the former Parisian confirms week after week that he has passed a milestone, showing himself to be brilliant and consistent.
If Red Bull gives wings, so does RasenBallsport. Christopher Nkunku is in any case deploying his under the colors of the Red Bulls of Leipzig at the start of the season. The figures speak for themselves: nine goals in 11 matches and four assists, including two doubles in the Bundesliga before the truce and even a hat-trick in a crazy match against Manchester City, in the Champions League. Crazy match, but lost (defeat 3-6). And defeats, the vice-champion of Germany has known others in this choppy start to the season. After a great success against the second division team Sandhausen (4-0), in the German Cup, the players of Jesse Marsch – successor to Julian Nagelsmann on the bench – conceded five defeats in ten matches, for three victories and two draws, the most recent last Saturday, on the ground of Friborg (1-1). And this despite Emil Forsberg’s opening scoring in the first period and several opportunities to break, including a bar from Nkunku just before the break.
Disappointing results which put the vice-champions of Germany up to the wall, they who occupy only a modest eighth place in the classification of the German championship and the last position in the hierarchy of group A, in C1. Suffice to say that there is already an emergency on all fronts. “The numbers are clear. We need points“, Recognizes coach Marsch. “We have a very good group, a very good coach who has his ideas. I remain confident. I’m sure we can do something good tomorrow (Tuesday)», Assures the French Nordi Mukiele.
“He’s huge… He’s one of the big guys now, he’s showing himself on the European stage. “
Presnel Kimpembe on Christopher Nkunku
In this ocean of irregularity, Nkunku, for his part, displays a level of performance that detonates. A real metamorphosis for the former Parisian, who has clearly taken a step forward. It is not his former teammate at the PSG Presnel Kimpembe training center who will say the opposite… “He is huge… We all know his qualities. Me especially because we were trained together. He has evolved enormously, even though we knew his potential. He’s one of the big guys now, he’s showing up on the European scene“Ignites the Parisian defender. Already in sight since his € 13m move to Germany just over two years ago, with five goals and 16 assists in his debut season (44 matches), and seven goals and 11 assists in 2020- 21 (40 matches), but often seen as a luxury joker in the eyes of some, the native of Lagny-sur-Marne stands out as the number 1 asset of Leipzig.
“He’s a new Christopher Nkunku», We swear in the columns of the German daily Bild, conquered by the prowess of a player who lines up statistics worthy of the best this season. And it is his new coach, Jesse Marsch, who talks about it best, he who is not for nothing in the emergence of the former titi, positioned higher this season: “He’s a great player. He thirsts to learn, again and again, more things in his daily work. I asked him to play on the right more than on the left. Now I even have the feeling that he can play a center forward because he is very smart, very fast, very efficient and he has a lot of technical qualities. He’s smart when it comes to converting chances into goals. He is a very important player for us. He’s had a really prolific month. He can progress to become an even better player. But he’s already a key part of our team, no doubt“, For example said the technician from the US, 47, previously worked for the other club in the Red Bull galaxy, Salzburg.
Marsch is also never short of arguments when it comes to braiding the praises of his player, as was the case last Thursday, before the trip to Friborg, while some reported a quarrel between the two men after an injury to the Ile-de-France in training: “He is so important to us now… I am happy that he is in such great shape and that he is an important part of the team. He feels very good in the squad and on the pitch, and he plays very well“.
Soon in the French team?
Often confined to the bench in Paris, Nkunku seems in any case to have made the right choice by rallying Germany, like many French people, and many former PSG elsewhere. Moussa Diaby is for example the heyday of Leverkusen. Unlike Nkunku, he has already enjoyed the honors of a first selection in the France team. Ditto for Mukiele, one of the other members of the French delegation in Leipzig, with Mohamed Simakan. A delegation that has been reduced by several elements this summer, with the departures of Dayot Upamencano at Bayern Munich and Ibrahima Konaté, in Liverpool. If he continues at this pace, Nkunku, 23, will soon catch the eye of Didier Deschamps. Kimpembe will be delighted to welcome him to Clairefontaine. “I hope he will make his debut in Blue … when he gets the chance“, Slips” Presko “, taking all the usual precautions.
“I take that as a motivation. It will probably come if I continue like this“, Recently indicated Nkunku about the France team, in the columns of Bild, adding that he feels “strong“And that he is at”top»Physically after being able to do a real preparation this summer. It is recalled that RB Leipzig had participated in the “Final 8” of C1 in August 2020, before moving on to the following season. It is the PSG which had ended its course, in half (3-0). One thing is certain: Nkunku will be one of the main threats to a Paris Saint-Germain that he loves and knows by heart. A PSG in which he would have liked to break into, and where he has also had the opportunity to show himself, more than some other young shoots of the training center. Not enough to make a lasting place in the sun, however. Never mind, it is therefore against Paris that he will try to shine on Tuesday. A reunion in the form of “ritual“For Seine-et-Marnais, knowing that the two clubs have faced each other in the last two seasons in C1. “We have a chance in Paris», He promises, ambitious.
Christopher Nkunku and the Red Bulls would do well to seize it, otherwise their European course would be cut short. With zero points after three matches, the doors to the round of 16 would probably already be closed… “It will be a different match (compared to those of the last two seasons, editor’s note), especially for us since we started our campaign badly. We also have a different workforce», Underlines Mukiele. Leipzig will also have two meetings against Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappé and company. Return match on November 3, in Germany this time. Good news for Leipzig? The curse that ex-Parisians often score against their former club is tenacious. Ask Munich’s Kinglsey Coman, executioner of the capital club in the C1 final, in Lisbon, in the heart of summer 2020… Will Christopher Nkunku continue the tradition?