Christopher Nkunku to Chelsea: How the deal is materialising, where he’ll play & more

By | October 4, 2022

Christopher Nkunku has signed a pre-contract agreement with Chelsea to join them next summer, meaning the Blues will snap up one of the hottest properties in European football right now.

Join Mark Chapman, Raphael Honigstein and Liam Twomey as they explain where the deal currently stands and where he might fit in.

Listen to The Athletic Football Podcast five times a week this season…
Apple:
Spotify:

Subscribe to The Athletic UK channel 👉 | 🔔Make sure to enable all push notifications!🔔

The Athletic is currently offering a special price subscription of £1/$1 a month for the first six months. To redeem that limited-time-only offer go to 👉

Follow The Athletic UK:
Website 👉
Twitter 👉
Instagram 👉
Facebook 👉

Follow Tifo Football:
Website 👉
Twitter 👉
Facebook 👉
Instagram 👉
Subscribe to Tifo Football 👉

#nkunku #Chelsea #theathletic


Well Ralph you've been watching and cook Who developing the Bundesliga he is Still only 24 years old how big a talent Are we talking about here right now Amazing talent I think he's gone beyond The talent Bracket and into a Real fantastic player Best player in the bundeslie are not Named earling Harland And Robert Lewandowski the last couple Of years hugely Versatile can play in a number of Positions the one caveat I would add is that I don't think he can Lead the line I don't think that's his Best position I think he's better coming Off from a wide area Or from a number 10 position So As good as signing as he will be I think For Chelsea if this does go through I Still think they need somebody else Alongside him to bring out the best of Him so Is he is he better in a three then or Are you saying he could be in it he Could play in a 10 with with somebody Ahead of him yeah he could be he could Be doing either Um as a general rule of thumb I think Forwards like center-backs always like To have safety numbers so if you have Three Strikers I think it's easier

If you have two Strikers he's easier Than one Um But I don't think he would be best utilized With his with his back to goal Uh trying to hold up balls or trying to Link up in in deep positions too far Away from The opposition box Um maybe he will develop that side of His game but he is a very explosive Player likes to dribble Likes to cut inside And I think he will be Really good signing for Chelsea really Really good signing Is this one of the first deals that it Feels to you like Uh pre-boli and now with Boley Everybody's aligned Um I I'm not sure because there are so many So few people left from what happened Before I mean the the chief Scout has Gone of course Um Thomas tickle has gone Um the football structure above too cool Went ages ago so Um we are very much talking about Decisions that I think Chelsea's new Owners are making of their own back Really and the interesting part of this Is that

You know it was one thing Spending so aggressively last summer When you felt like you had to the Chelsea Squad needed significant surgery It's another thing to now line up Transfers for future Windows when you Still don't have a sporting director in Place I think that's a really Interesting Dynamic and I wonder how it Affects Chelsea's pursuit of a sporting Director but I think this is certainly an alignment Of someone that that Chelsea have looked At for quite a long time If he's not necessarily been a top Target Um and someone that the new owners have Decided should be a priority I grab Potter's role in this Well I don't think he's taking a sort of Leading role I mean he has Carl McCauley The recruitment now yes he's brought With him I think macaulay's role is is To give Potter's opinion essentially on Players Um so I I'm sure he will have been asked For his opinion on and kinku Um because that the new owners want to Be collaborative that that was a big Part of why they appointed Potter and Why they felt they couldn't work too Cool Um so I'm sure even if he doesn't admit It in a press conference Potter has been

At least asked about in cuckoo and what He thinks of him and how he might fit Into his team But ultimately I think Chelsea's owners Are looking at this as a as a talent Play Um and there's a good investment in Someone who could be about to explode at The highest level how does the deal work As far as you understand it RAF Well I don't have the uh total uh Picture because it has been crowded Clouded a little bit in in denials and Obfuscations from various sources but Basically when kunku renew this contract In the summer There was a Clause inserter that allowed him to go For a certain amount of money that Amount of money in according to what I've been told is not fixed in itself But there's a mechanism To do with performances Etc that then Defines the value objectively and you Can sort of work Work your way back from it now thinking Okay what will the price probably be And what Chelsea have done or trying to Do is to say We will Do the deal now and make sure that Leipzig given give the player to us And that way we don't have to sit and Wait until somebody else will come and

Maybe trigger the same mechanism of Course the number one The first step the most important step Is to win over the player The reason why I think we've heard these Reports is because it is effectively A situation where the player can control His own destiny And Leipzig are not stupid enough to Pretend that no one's talking to him and This is all an outrage and tapping up And all sort of stuff they they Understand how the business works And they knew that this was going to Come Perhaps what they weren't prepared for Is for the story to come out so early Which of course is is not a deal with Still a big chunk of the season to go My guess is that with the workup Approaching maybe we will see some Clarity before the World Cup I think That would be a good moment if and agree If indeed an agreement can be reached Between three parties Because then there's a massive Gap until German Football comes back in January And uh there won't be too much Negativity I think So that that's where we are Um we've seen with Chelsea in the summer That some of the deals where they fought They are basically done or they're very Close they can still fall apart so we

Should caution that until everything Assigned we cannot quite be sure players Can change their minds as well but The indications are that this will go Through And Yeah it is Quite astonishing really if If you consider the fact that at the end Of August this medical went through and We're Just in September and we're talking About a deal that will happen in June of Next year Even allowing for sort of the Navigator Precedent that still Is a lot of Forward Thinking And and quite impressive I think if Chelsea can can make this happen RAF um Ralph talks about you know how great the Player is what a great deal Chelsea Might might have managed to pull off Here Where is he gonna play Well raf's watching watched him a lot More I'll be Leipzig than I have but if My understanding is correct they've They've often played with a sort of back Three and either a either a front three Or a sort of a 10 and a and sort of Split Strikers Um in recent years and then kunku has Played In both systems and play very well in

Both systems Um kind of offer a more conventional Number nine And uh and I think Chelsea is set up to To let him do that as well given the way That Graham Potter has started I know They played a back four against Crystal Palace Um but Potter is tactically quite Similar to Thomas tuckel in terms of the The sort of stable of of starting Formations that he will pick from with This group of players and um and I think Whether it's a three or a two and kunku Will rarely find himself in a situation Where he is leading the line for Chelsea And expected to hold the hold the ball Up and win fight balls against much Bigger center-backs I don't think that's That will be the plan I'm saying it'd be Very interesting if if Charles and Potter think they still need that number Nine yeah now that the pendulum has Swung back towards uh number nines and I Think uh there might be one or two in The Premier League who uh are um sort of Reinvigorating uh their position at the Moment um But I think in kunku as as Liam has said We'll we'll find a place in whatever Formation The one thing that I wouldn't like to See him in personally is to be that

Number nine I think you wouldn't do him Any favors Um so that's going to be I think Still up for debate you know is this it Now In terms of the strike force or are they Saying well cuckoo is basically the guy Who will Dictate how a new Strike Force will look And that might not include piano American bomb and Obama young and not Too many of the other players at the Moment there's I think a lot of question Marks about the The forward players uh right now at Chelsea which I think makes it all the More Important that they really strengthen With quality players like like