Winners and losers of Nkunku's transfer to Chelsea
Nkunku is understood to have undergone a medical test in Frankfurt this summer with a Chelsea orthopaedist also present, the Blues trying to steal a march on one of European football's most in-demand players.
Nkunku has a release clause of €60 million which activates in 2023, something that could prove a relative snip for a full France international who plundered 35 goals and 20 assists in 52 games in all competitions for Leipzig last season.
Able to play across midfield and attack, Nkunku would be boon for Chelsea, but not everyone stands to gain. Football Transfers looks at the winners and losers from his potential move to Stamford Bridge…
Chelsea have an agreement in principle to sign Christopher Nkunku from RB Leipzig, according to RMC 👀 pic.twitter.com/El5lBxZLdC— Football Transfers (@Transfersdotcom) September 30, 2022
Winner: Graham Potter
The first big winner would be new manager Graham Potter. Nkunku is a nascent talent in world football, and is already up to nine goal-involvements from 12 games in all competitions this season despite Leipzig floundering and being on their second manager of the campaign.
Chelsea spent nearly €300m on the likes of Wesley Fofana, Raheem Sterling, Kalidou Koulibaly and Pierr-Emerick Aubameyang this summer, in what was new owner Todd Boehly's first transfer window. But Thomas Tuchel had helped oversee all of them before being sacked days after the window closed.
Potter has a talented squad with which to work, but they aren't his players. Nkunku's acquisition would make him the first 'Potter player' at Stamford Bridge.
Loser: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Poor Aubameyang. A DFB Cup winner under Tuchel at Borussia Dortmund in 2017, their reunion following the striker's arrival from Barcelona this summer lasted less than an hour of football, Aubameyang making way for Armando Broja 59 minutes into Chelsea's 1-0 loss to Dinamo Zagreb in the Champions League.
That proved to be Tuchel's last game, and although the Gabon striker started Potter's next two games - scoring in the 2-1 win over Crystal Palace last time out - Chelsea aren't signing Nkunku to sit on the bench, and, like Aubameyang, he has made the move from winger to bona fide No.9 in recent seasons.
Aubameyang 🤝 Tuchel.— Football Transfers (@Transfersdotcom) September 7, 2022
😥 The reunion lasted 59 minutes. pic.twitter.com/sHILtCZEOR
Winner: Kai Havertz
Unlike Aubameyang, who has moved up front full-time, Kai Havertz has always felt a bit crowbarred into the Chelsea XI as a False 9. Yes, he scored the winning goal against Manchester City in the Champions League final in 2021, but his overall return of 24 goals and 14 assists from 101 games leave something to be desired.
Havertz shot to prominence at Bayer Leverkusen as an attacking midfielder. His height may suggest that he would be an asset in opposition penalty area, but 'King Kai' does his most regal work with the game in front of him. With Nkunku further forward, Havertz could be restored to his best position.
Kai Havertz’s winner was sensational.— Football Transfers (@Transfersdotcom) March 13, 2022
Stop what you’re doing and watch it, if you haven’t seen it already 😳pic.twitter.com/47GqmZsA6d
Loser: Christian Pulisic
Another import from the Bundesliga, but there is surely no way back for Christian Pulisic at Chelsea now. The Blues already had Havertz, Mason Mount and Hakim Ziyech as final-third operators before signing Manchester City and England man Sterling for £47.5m (€54.4m) this summer. Add Nkunku to the mix and things suddenly get very crowded.
Juventus - and a reunion with best friend and USMNT teammate Weston McKennie seem like the most likely next destination for Pulisic, but Leeds, with their American contingent of Jesse Marsch, Tyler Adams and Brenden Aaronson, have also emerged as potential suitors.
Winner: Mason Mount
While Mount can also play in an advanced role behind a striker, he shares some of Nkunku's versatility and is happy to play right across the Blues' midfield. But this is part of why Mount was Chelsea's most-used midfielder last season, playing 2,365 Premier League minutes.
And the academy graduate is beginning to look tired. He had 11 goals and 10 assists on the league last term, but now hasn't scored in open play since May. Nkunku's ability to play multiple positions could afford Mount a much-needed rest. It's unfortunate for England that can't happen for the World Cup in Qatar.