Christopher Nkunku could be Chelsea’s last big financial bite after it was revealed that the RB Leipzig striker underwent a secret medical this summer ahead of a move next year.
The Frenchman is considered one of the brightest talents on the market and won the Bundesliga player of the season after scoring 20 goals last season.
Nkunku rejected interest from Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United and signed a new contract with Leipzig until 2026, which is expected to include a release clause of €60 million.
Although Nkunku appears to have put his future in Leipzig, German Bild reports that Chelsea have carried out an initial medical examination of the 24-year-old over the summer.
Should the Blues ultimately prevail over their rivals when it comes to Nkunku, FootballTransfers takes a look at how the French international could fit into Graham Potter’s squad.
Potter’s versatility with Nkunku
Potter has only played one game for his new team since being appointed in September and it remains to be seen whether he will continue with the three centre-back system used by former manager Thomas Tuchel or whether he will work with four full-backs.
Given that Chelsea signed defenders Kalidou Koulibaly, Wesley Fofana and former target man Marco Cucurella in the summer, Potter may opt for a version of the 3-4-2-1 system he often used during his time at Brighton.
Players like Cucurella were signed partly because of their adaptability to different systems, and as Chelsea have no natural left-footed central defender, the Spaniard could play that role now that Ben Chilwell has returned from a long-term injury.
Ultimately, the defence is likely to rotate between newcomers and veterans Thiago Silva and Cesar Azpilicueta, with Reece James the only real ‘lock’ on the right wing.
Potter used a central midfield of Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic in his first game against RB Salzburg, but N’Golo Kante will likely replace the latter when the Frenchman returns to form.
Raheem Sterling will no doubt retain his place in the first team on the wing after scoring four goals in his first eight games for Chelsea, while Mason Mount is likely to be given a place ahead of Kai Havertz due to the German’s unconvincing performances on the opposite flank.
Chelsea’s Achilles heel over the past year has been the lack of firepower going forward, which is why he has given up hope of signing Nkunku, who scored 35 goals in all competitions last season.
Despite the summer signing of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, the 34-year-old has always been regarded as a reserve player and with Nkunku’s arrival, the Gabonese striker is likely to be pushed out of the starting line-up.
The fact that Aubameyang and Havertz have been dropped to the bench, as well as Hakim Ziyech, Christian Pulisic and Conor Gallagher, means that Potter will have the option to replace the back four at his discretion.
Nkunku’s versatility will allow Chelsea to play him wide or deep behind another striker, making the signing pointless and potentially solving the Blues’ long-term problem of scoring goals
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