FEATURE | European Player of the Season, 2nd: Christopher Nkunku

This article is part of Get Football’s European Player and Coach of the Season series, as we countdown our top 12 in both categories each day before naming our winner ahead of the Champions League final on May 28. You can read all the profiles and view the ranking here.

Christopher Nkunku has been in the form of his life this season. The forward has enjoyed being deployed in an advanced position this season and it has shown as he has been scoring goals for fun both in the league and in Europe.

Scoring 20 goals in 34 matches in the Bundesliga and recording 15 assists is no easy feat, especially when tasked with playing a different position under first Jesse Marsch and now, Domenico Tedesco. And yet, it is something the RB Leipzig man has taken in his stride. His outstanding performances have earned him four Player of the Month awards throughout the campaign, something that no other player has matched this season.

Nkunku’s performances have also been recognised by fans, clubs and experts alike as he was also awarded the Bundesliga Player of the Season ahead of players such as Robert Lewandowski and Joshua Kimmich.

His tally now stands at 31 goals and 37 assists in 94 Bundesliga games over three seasons with most of those goals coming this campaign as he helped his side recover from their worst ever start to a league season in what has proven to be his breakout year after joining from PSG in 2019.

Breaking into the first team at PSG was never going to be easy with the wealth of talent they have at their disposal, so when Leipzig came calling with a reputation of developing young and talented players, Nkunku made the right choice despite also having interest from Premier League side Arsenal.

But not only has Nkunku left his mark in the league, he has also made an impact in Europe, the Frenchman scored a hat-trick against Manchester City in a Champions League group stage match. Incredibly, that still was not enough for Leipzig to get any points as City ran out 6-3 winners. 

Leipzig finished third in their group containing PSG and Manchester City with Nkunku rounding off his Champions League campaign with seven goals. Nkunku would be heavily involved in Leipzig’s run to the Europa League semi-finals, scoring four goals. He scored against Rangers at Ibrox to level the semi-final 2-2 on aggregate giving his side hope that they could reach their first ever European final. This would not be the case as Rangers would go on to win 3-1 on the night and 3-2 on aggregate, declining Leipzig the chance of being involved in an all German Europa League Final against Eintracht Frankfurt.

Nkunku was also given his first French national team cap, playing 75 minutes in a friendly against Ivory Coast in March. With his exceptional performances, he must be in with a shot at making France’s squad for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar as Didier Deschamps’ side look to retain their crown as world champions.

After securing Champions League football for the 2022/23 season, Nkunku would also play his role in helping Leipzig win their first major trophy. The Frenchman scored the equaliser against Freiburg in the DFB Pokal final before netting his penalty in the shootout, much to the delight of the Leipzig fans.

A season like the one that Nkunku has just had is bound to bring a flurry of transfer rumours with it. Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal are all said to be interested. A fee in the region of €75 million would have to be made for Leipzig to even think about parting ways with their star asset.

The 24-year-old enjoyed a monstrous season. In the form of his life, Nkunku surpassed Timo Werner’s Leipzig record of 47 goal contributions (34 goals, 13 assists) in a single season. With 55 goal contributions (35 goals, 20 assists) this season, the Frenchman is a phenomenal player, one that is rightfully second in Get Football’s European Player of the Season and an attacker that can go to the absolute top.

Jacob Toland

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