Six things you might not know about Manchester United target Christopher Nkunku

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Manchester United need another rebuild and interim boss Ralf Rangnick has made no secret of his admiration for midfielder Christopher Nkunku, highlighting him as a summer target.

The Red Devils are not alone in their interest, however, with Arsenal also keen to lure him to the Premier League, while Bayern Munich are reported to be monitoring the 24-year-old Frenchman.

Planet Sport takes a look at six things you may not know about the 24-year-old Frenchman.

'Liberated' by Rangnick

Ralf Rangnick, RB Leipzig director of football
Ralf Rangnick, RB Leipzig director of football

Christopher Nkunku started his professional career at Paris Saint-Germain, joining them in 2010 aged just 13.

After five years of progression in the club's youth set-up, Nkunku was handed his debut for the club in December 2015, replacing Lucas Moura in a 2-0 Champions League win over Shakhtar Donetsk.

Nkunku slowly grew to become a part of the first team around the Parc de Princes, but never truly nailed down a starting spot. In the 2018/19 season, Nkunku made 22 appearances for the Parisian side, but struggled to make an impact, recording just three goals and two assists.

As PSG made more and more big-money signings, youth players became overlooked. With his contract running down, Nkunku began to look elsewhere.

Christopher Nkunku, PSG
Christopher Nkunku, PSG

After negotiations with Ralf Rangnick, who was the director of RB Leipzig at the time, Nkunku became the latest young talent to make a move to the Bundesliga.

There, Nkunku has seen much more game time and has flourished into the player that has now become a target for many top European clubs.

The Frenchman managed an astonishing 13 assists in his debut season - a tally only topped by Emil Forsberg's debut Bundesliga campaign.

Following his move, Nkunku said: "I feel I am blossoming and liberated. Changing clubs was not such a bad idea. Now I can say that it is better to leave your comfort zone to grow taller."

Close to joining the Gunners

Arsenal manager Unai Emery
Arsenal manager Unai Emery

When Nkunku decided to move away from Paris, Arsenal moved quickly to try and secure his signature. Unai Emery was in charge of the Gunners at the time, and having worked with Nkunku during his time at PSG, the Spaniard was keen to bring him to the Emirates in 2019. PSG quoted the north London side £17million during negotiations, a fee that Arsenal weren't willing to meet.

The Gunners instead went and signed Denis Suarez on loan instead. Remember him? Me neither.

To rub further salt in the wounds, having let Nkunku slip through their fingers, Arsenal spent £72million on Nicolas Pepe in the same window.

Pressing with pace

RB Leipzig's Christopher Nkunku is wanted by Manchester United
RB Leipzig's Christopher Nkunku is wanted by Manchester United

One major problem Rangnick has faced during his time at Old Trafford, is that the current squad can't seem to grasp his playing style.

Whether it's due to a lack of fitness, sharpness or simply the players not wanting to oblige, who knows? What is certain is that despite reverting to an advisor role in the summer, the German is keen for players who share his work ethic to join the Erik ten Hag revolution.

Nkunku is definitely one of them. The 24-year-old is exceptionally athletic and has become well-known for his energetic style on the pitch. But what you may not know, is just how much Nkunku excels in this area. His top speed of 35.54km/h ranks 10th in the Bundesliga.

According to Opta's data from the 2020/21 season, Nkunku would become United's second fastest player, with only Marcus Rashford's 36.26km/h clocking faster.

Furthermore, Nkunku is able to sustain his energy throughout a match - something United have struggled with of late.

The Frenchman's 856 sprints this season places him as the fifth most active player in the Bundesliga.

It's a trait United need more of, so Nkunku's high-octane style will be music to the ears of the Old Trafford faithful.

Pulling the strings

Speaking of music, Nkunku can play the guitar... or maybe he can't - I'll leave it up to you to guess after this cryptic caption.

But assuming he can, Nkunku's talent will be welcomed at Old Trafford. Let's just hope United's media team don't have him playing an instrument during his announcement video, that didn't turn out too well last time.

Whether it's on the pitch or in the dressing room, Nkunku could add some much-needed harmony to a seemingly out-of-tune United squad.

Sharing a birthplace with Paul Pogba

Paul Pogba Manchester United warm-up Oct21
Paul Pogba Manchester United warm-up Oct21

No, I don't just mean France. Both Nkunku and Pogba were actually born in the same suburb of Paris.

Lagny-Sur-Marne is a suburb in eastern Paris, 26km from the city centre.

Pogba has previously spoken of his humble upbringing in Paris, saying: "I grew up - how do you say this? - in the hood. We were sleeping three, four, five people in one bed. But it was the best time, because we were all together, so it was very good."

But ironically, Nkunku may never play alongside his fellow Parisian at Old Trafford, with Pogba linked with a move away from United this summer.

In fact, Nkunku's arrival could be as a replacement for Pogba. United fans will just hope he turns out to be more consistent than their current £89million man.

Overlooked by Thomas Tuchel

Thomas Tuchel managing PSG, 2019
Thomas Tuchel managing PSG, 2019

While we've already mentioned Nkunku's previous stint under Unai Emery, the 24-year-old midfielder has also played under Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel.

Nkunku was part of PSG's first team during Tuchel's stewardship in the 2018/19 season. But, one of the first things the German coach did upon his arrival was bring in midfield reinforcements.

Manchester United's Ander Herrera and Everton's Idrissa Gueye both joined Tuchel's side in the summer, forcing Nkunku further and further down the pecking order.

Of course, it's hard to blame Tuchel for wanting to offload Nkunku at the time - the Frenchman scored just eight goals in his 55 appearances in Paris.

But three years on, it may well be a decision the German manager looks back on with regret.

The article Six things you might not know about Manchester United target Christopher Nkunku appeared first on Planetsport.com.

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