From The Scouting App: Analysis of RB Leipzig Talent Christopher Nkunku

Christopher Nkunku has been one of Julian Nagelsmann’s best players at RB Leipzig in a very young team – with an average age of 24.5. The French winger started his playing days and youth career in the French capital with Paris Saint-Germain where he spent a good five years before being promoted to the first team in the 2015-2016 season.

Nkunku’s roots lie in Paris

Inconsistent game time and four years later, Europe’s youngest manager set his sights on luring the winger to Germany.

His first season at Leipzig saw him become a significant part of Nagelsmann’s team where he was utilized as a left winger and intermittently as an attacking midfielder, as Leipzig played some of most attack-minded football in Europe and ended up playing in the 2019-20 Champions League Semi Finals, only to be knocked out by his former team PSG.

Nkunku has become an established member of the club and etches his place in any position that deems necessary – as opposed to his first season where he usually played in only two positions. His versatility has allowed him to play in a remarkable six positions in midfield and attack this season. He has functioned as an attacking midfielder, left winger, right winger, central midfield, left midfield and also as a center-forward.

The 1997-born attacker is a dynamic player with good dribbling ability, eye for decisive passes and technique on the ball – averaging at least two key passes per game played. However, he is best poised to make a difference when he plays through the center of the pitch rather than on the flanks, mainly because of his ability to open up spaces and spread out passes upfront to the strikers or to wingers on the flanks. He is also difficult to mark in such positions as his low center of gravity allows him to drift around the center of the pitch, confusing the defensive midfielders and center-backs equally.

Nkunku has largely been profited from Nagelsmann’s decision to experiment with formations. The manager has used more than 6 formations this season, making it hard for opponent coaches and analysts to analyze how he will turn up in the next match.

Nkunku has functioned as an attacking midfielder with another player in a similar position, in a 4-3-2-1 or 3-4-2-1 or 4-2-2-2. He has also been deployed as a winger in 4-3-3 and 4-2-3-1 formations, linking up with fellow attackers Yussuf Poulsen and Dani Olmo in an efficient manner. His ability to exploit and manipulate spaces in the final third makes him an exciting attacker.

No matter what the formation deployed, Nkunku’s versatility allows him to function wherever necessary.

Standing at just 5’10”, he isn’t the tallest among his mates, but his technical and tactical ability makes him a valuable addition in the squad. The Frenchman has already played alongside the likes of Di Maria, Neymar, Kylian Mbappé and Marco Verratti.

His versatility is one of his greatest strengths

He cited Italian midfielder Verratti as his greatest influence since making his senior debut. “I’m inspired by his game. He’s not the biggest but he knows how to use his body on the pitch,” said Nkunku. His low center of gravity movement is similar to that of Verratti’s – except the Frenchman possesses a more attacking mindset.

Having struggled for opportunities in Paris, he is now finding great experience starting week in week out with RB Leipzig. It Is also just a matter of time before he starts capping regularly for the French national team, having appeared frequently for the U-21 & U-18 team.

His value has shot up more than a hundred fold – from €250,000 to €40M now – since initial playing days at Paris Saint-Germain in 2016, when he was 18-years-old. Several teams have already made their interest known to sign the versatile player – including Barcelona, Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United. He is an exciting young prospect and at only 23, Nkunku has great potential to become one of Europe’s more established stars.