More goals than Salah and Ronaldo – Liverpool and Chelsea should not sleep on Leipzig star

Robin Bairner
Christopher Nkunku celebrates scoring of RB Leipzig, 2021/22

With nine goals in the Champions League group stages, Ajax striker Sebastien Haller has been arguably the breakout star of the competition to date.

Haller has fired the Amsterdam side through to the last 16 in some style, ensuring they have won all five of their group stage games to date.

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Yet the former West Ham star’s record is arguably not even the most impressive in the competition.

Christopher Nkunku is pushing him for that honour, with the RB Leipzig star having scored seven times in five games as well as creating three more.

He has outscored Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah, who is being tipped as the best player in the world presently, and Cristiano Ronaldo, who has been credited with single-handedly dragging Manchester United into the last 16. There is little doubt that former France U21 international Nkunku has comfortably outperformed both in the competition to date.

What has been most impressive about the 24-year-old’s achievement, meanwhile, is that his numbers have been accumulated against the absolute elite of the European game.

He started the Champions League with a memorable hat-trick in a 6-3 loss against Manchester City and has maintained that momentum throughout. A goal and an assist followed in the clash against Paris Saint-Germain, the club where he came through the academy.

Champions League leading scorers 2021/22

NameClubGoals
Sebastien HallerAjax9
Robert LewandowskiBayern9
Christopher NkunkuRB Leipzig7
Mohamed SalahLiverpool6
Cristiano RonaldoMan Utd6
Karim BenzemaReal Madrid5

On Wednesday, Nkunku continued his fine record by scoring twice and creating one more in a thumping 5-0 win over Club Brugge.

Only Haller and Robert Lewandowski can post more goals in the competition this season. Both are, of course, centre forwards and have played in more dominant teams.

Indeed, Nkunku’s achievements could be overshadowed by the fact that Leipzig will exit the competition and may not even make the Europa League if results go against them on Matchday 6.

Nkunku on the move?

Christopher Nkunku, RB Leipzig, 2021/22

Nkunku’s versatility across that attacking midfield sector of the park could make him a useful addition to virtually any team needing additional depth in that area.

He is capable of performing a similar role to Sadio Mane at Liverpool, who are known to be on the lookout for additional depth in their attacking sector, while Chelsea could use him as an upgrade on the injury-prone Christian Pulisic if they choose to sell during the January transfer window.

Real Madrid have also been understandably linked tentatively to Nkunku, and his value at the Bernabeu is clear due to his multifunctionality.

How much is Nkunku worth?

According to FootballTransfers’ algorithm, which calculates a player’s worth based on hundreds of in-play data points, Nkunku should be valued around the €45 million mark.

For a player in such hot form, that is a relative bargain.

France honours are surely around the corner for Nkunku, and once his achievements start to be more widely recognised, his value is set to sky rocket.