Chelsea line up swoop for £52.5m Christopher Nkunku after staging ‘secret’ medical

Christopher Nkunku - Chelsea line up Christopher Nkunku move after 'secret medical' in summer - GETTY IMAGES
Christopher Nkunku - Chelsea line up Christopher Nkunku move after 'secret medical' in summer - GETTY IMAGES

Chelsea have already lined up a move to sign Christopher Nkunku after it emerged the RB Leipzig forward underwent medical tests this summer.

Nkunku had secret medical tests in Germany, with a Chelsea orthopaedist present, ahead of a potential move to Stamford Bridge next summer, when the club could trigger his £52.58 million release clause.

It is claimed that Chelsea already have an agreement in principle with the player, although there is still space for other clubs to come forward and Nkunku would still require another full medical ahead of any potential transfer.

News of the medical checks suggests Chelsea have already stolen a march on their rivals, with Nkunku seemingly attracted to the prospect of moving to Stamford Bridge at the end of the season.

Nkunku scored 35 goals in 52 appearances for Leipzig last season and has started this term well, netting six times in 11 games.

The 24-year-old can play as an out-and-out striker or as an attacking midfielder, which means he would give Chelsea plenty of options in the future.

Chelsea this summer spent £50 million on Raheem Sterling and signed former Arsenal captain Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang to try to find a solution to their striking problems. It is understood that any confirmed move for Nkunku would not impact the 33-year-old’s position at the club.

It is thought new head coach Graham Potter has been consulted over the possibility of signing Nkunku next summer, but the 47-year-old understandably steered clear of the subject ahead of his first Premier League game in charge of Chelsea against Crystal Palace today, when he will be without influential N’Golo Kanté and first-choice goalkeeper Edouard Mendy.

Asked about Nkunku, Potter said: “My answer to that type of stuff is unless it’s a player for us, I don’t really speak about other players, So,  no comment.”

While a move for Nkunku is not thought to present any risk to Aubameyang and Sterling at this stage, it could impact the likes of Kai Havertz and Christian Pulisic.

Pulisic has expressed his frustration at being left out of the team by former head coach Thomas Tuchel in an autobiography set to be released that is titled My Journey So Far.

“I can’t comment on the book or what he’s said, but players go through periods of their careers where they have to suffer a little bit and for whatever reason don’t get the game time that they’d like,” said Potter.

“It’s part of the job and part of the sign-up to being a Premier League football player that it’s not necessarily straightforward to be a regular in a top-four team. That’s not to say you don’t understand the player’s frustration as well when they don’t play because, obviously, that’s what they want to do. That’s what makes them happy.

“I can only comment on him [Pulisic] in terms of how he’s been with me, really positive. He’s an intelligent guy, articulate, knows how to express himself. My conversation with him has been good and positive. I’m not going to judge anybody on what’s happened in the past. I make my own mind up and football hopefully decides, that’s the best way to be as a coach I think.”

Asked if he would read Pulisic’s book, Potter added: “Yeah, why not? If he’s prepared to make the effort and write a book, then I could certainly read it, definitely. He’s under pressure then because he has to be entertaining and interesting!”

Potter has had to wait three weeks for his first League game in charge of Chelsea since being appointed as successor to Tuchel, but insisted his life has not dramatically changed in that time.

Having previously claimed he would never be a “sexy” manager while at Brighton, Potter was asked whether joining Chelsea had changed that view.

“I very rarely feel sexy,” said Potter, laughing. “Maybe you do, but I very rarely do!”

In terms of his family life, he added: “We’re still living where we were – we haven’t moved. Our lifestyle has not changed, we’re not driving round Brighton and Hove in an open-topped car or heading off up to Cobham in one.

There is no Lamborghini on order – I am driving the same car I drove when I picked it up in England when I returned to Swansea.

“My life has not changed at all, if I am being honest. Apart from the fact I live in a different place, I am still trying to prepare for the matches, doing the job I am in and getting ready for the challenge ahead which is a really intense, exciting six weeks.”

What kind of player is Nkunku – and why do Chelsea want him?

By Telegraph Sport

Why Nkunku is so coveted

Nkunku, who joined RB Leipzig in 2019 from Paris St-Germain, had been a promising but somewhat unfulfilled talent in the Bundesliga until last season, when his game went to the next level in spectacular fashion.

Having previously never managed more than six goals in a league season, he hit 20 for Leipzig in the league, and 11 in Europe (across the Champions League and Europa League).

Only Robert Lewandowski managed more goals and assists combined in the Bundesliga than Nkunku, who also ranked highly for shots and chance creation.

Where and how he scores his goals

Nkunku's goal map from the Bundesliga highlights his prowess as the sort of penalty-box poacher Chelsea have lacked in recent seasons.

All but three of his 20 goals were scored from inside the area, and while he is not a significant aerial presence – he did not score a single header, perhaps unsurprisingly given he is only 5ft 9in – he is comfortable shooting with both feet.

Where he operates

His aggregated touch map from last season's Bundesliga suggests he likes to operate on the left, where he can cut inside and shoot on his right foot.

That position at Chelsea has largely been occupied by Raheem Sterling this season; while there is no suggestion Nkunku, 24, would be signed as Sterling's replacement, it will present a conundrum to Potter as to where and how he fits into his forward options.