Chelsea Latest: How the Blues could line up with Christopher Nkunku


While the deal had been in the pipeline for a while, Chelsea finally confirmed the £52m signing of French superstar Christopher Nkunku from RB Leipzig this week in a move that marked the Blues’ first major foray into the summer transfer market.

The 24-year-old, who lodged 16 goals and four assists in just 20 Bundesliga starts for Leipzig last season, is a full international for France with ten caps under his belt and the forward is expected to be a first-choice staple for Chelsea in the Premier League next term.

New Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino will view Nkunku’s arrival as a welcome addition to his attacking armoury and it will be fascinating to see how the Argentinean coach uses the versatile Frenchman in his line-up.

How could Chelsea line up with Christopher Nkunku?

Alongside wielding a finely-tuned technical skillset, Christopher Nkunku is famed for his versatility and last season at Leipzig, the ex-PSG academy graduate was deployed in five different positions, featuring in just about every possible role in the final third for Die Roten Bullen.

Chelsea’s squad is set to undergo further rejigging this summer, but we’ve taken a look at some of the formations and positions Nkunku could take up in a blue shirt next season.

Nkunku to play as an out-and-out striker?

Christopher Nkunku was adaptable enough to excel in several positions last season, however, he was deployed as a centre-forward most often and Chelsea could use the flying French star to spearhead their attack in 2022/23.

New boss Mauricio Pochettino favoured a 4-2-3-1 formation during his time with Tottenham and Nkunku could play in the “Harry Kane role” in that set-up as the furthest forward attacker.

Raheem Sterling and Mykhailo Mudryk could operate on the flanks either side of Nkunku with a number ten filling in behind.  With Chelsea set to cash in on Kai Havertz and Christian Pulisic this summer, we’ve put 19-year-old Carney Chukwuemeka in there as a place-holder.

Similarly, with N’Golo Kante moving to Saudi Arabia, Mateo Kovacic working on a switch to Man City and Mason Mount likely to join Man Utd, we’ve used Conor Gallagher alongside Enzo Fernandez at the base of Chelsea’s midfield.

nkunku striker

A role at number ten in the works for Nkunku?

Alongside his ability to affect the game as a traditional striker, Christopher Nkunku can be just as effective in a more withdrawn role and the 24-year-old notched six times in eight appearances from an attacking midfield berth for Leipzig in the Bundesliga last season.

Nkunku averaged 1.6 key passes per game in the German top tier overall in 2022/23, highlighting his ability to whisper passes through defensive lines.

The Frenchman’s ability to carry the ball forward from deep could also make him a useful weapon in the Premier League and Nkunku completed 1.6 dribbles per 90 in Germany last season.

A role as a support striker in Chelsea’s team next term would allow the Blues to field Nicolas Jackson, who is finalising a move to the Londoners from Villarreal, in his favoured position up front.

22-year-old Jackson blazed a trail through La Liga in the second half of the 2022/23 campaign, netting nine times in his last eight appearances in the competitions for El Submarino Amarillo.

The prospect of Nkunku working in tandem with Jackson in the final third is an exciting one for Chelsea supporters, especially if the pair can develop genuine chemistry.

Nkunku number ten

Could Pochettino play three at the back?

Chelsea used formations with a three-man defence in 18 separate Premier League fixtures last season and the make-up of their current squad seems suited to a tactical strategy of that ilk.

If Mauricio Pochettino uses a team shape similar to his predecessors at Chelsea, Christopher Nkunku could be asked to play in one of the wider positions in the spaces beside centre-forward, Nicolas Jackson.

Nkunku was deployed closer to the sideline on several occasions for RB Leipzig last season, though he was often a more peripheral figure in games when he was asked to operate on the wing.

The Les Blues forward was routinely more impactful when allowed to roam more centrally, though he was happy to fill in on the flank when required.

Nkunkku flank

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