Christopher Nkunku is not too expensive for Real Madrid, but there’s another issue to consider

RB Leipzig, Christopher Nkunku (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images)
RB Leipzig, Christopher Nkunku (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images) /

Real Madrid have been linked to a handful of excellent forwards so far in the summer 2022 transfer window, and while it is possible Florentino Perez elects not to sign any of them, there is a good chance that if all three of Luka Jovic, Mariano Diaz, and Marco Asensio are sold, Madridistas could be welcoming a star forward before the 2022/23 season begins.

Serge Gnabry of Bayern Munich is seen as the most likely option, given he has one year left on his contract and seems to have no intention of staying, likely holding out for Madrid. But there is an even better Bundesliga player on the radar – younger, too.

Christopher Nkunku was literally named the Bundesliga’s Player of the Year, and everyone who watched the league wholeheartedly agreed he deserved it over Robert Lewandowski, despite the latter’s greater goal tally and name recognition.

The RB Leipzig’s star’s numbers and overall impact on his team were too good to ignore. Nkunku saved Leipzig from missing out on a top-four finish, and he showed great character in leading the club to its first-ever trophy, a DFB Pokal Final win over Freiburg.

Christopher Nkunku could cost Real Madrid 75-100 million euros

I do not consider Nkunku a likely option for Real Madrid, but I find it interesting that cost is brought up as a major deterrent. Andres Onrubia of AS says that Los Blancos do not have concrete interest in Nkunku, who is priced at 75-100 million euros by RB Leipzig.

That is not a low price, but it isn’t a bad deal in the context of the market. Darwin Nunez is reportedly going to cost Liverpool around 100 million euros if that transfer goes through. Yes, he is a couple of years younger than Nkunku, but nobody can pretend that he is anywhere near as good as a player who was the literal best in his league AND gets minutes for the French national team.

As we saw with the way Nkunku linked up on the pitch with Karim Benzema, Nkunku has the footballing intelligence and quality to mesh with Real Madrid’s best. And he certainly has the character and leadership, as we saw with the way he came up with clutch goals and assists for an otherwise disappointing Leipzig side time after time.

Nkunku is worth 75-100 million euros. He is legitimately one of the best players in the world right now, and he is no flash in the pan. We are talking about a player who was always great and is now entering his prime. Because before he stepped up as Leipzig’s main scorer this season, he was once their main playmaker and helped assist Timo Werner to a big-money Chelsea move that, in hindsight, he may not have deserved.

Christopher Nkunku brings added value due to his versatility

For the last few years, Nkunku has very much been Leipzig’s best player. At 24 years of age, Nkunku had 20 goals and 13 assists in the Bundesliga with four goals in the Europa League and…wait for it…seven goals in the Champions League. Seven in the UCL. At RB Leipzig.

Furthermore, Nkunku can play multiple positions. He can be a striker, left winger, right winger, attacking midfielder, or even a ball-carrying wide midfielder in a 4-4-2 or 4-3-3 in a pinch. Nkunku has even played fullback!

Signing players who are quality at many different positions is a great way of finding value in the transfer market. Keep that in mind with the transfer fee, too. In Nkunku, a team can buy someone who can fit many different roles with his skill-set, making it more likely for a transfer to be successful.

If this reads like a big advertisement for Nkunku, then that’s because the player is legitimately excellent and still undervalued and underrated by the average fan.

Would Real Madrid spend 100 million on another backup/future starter?

However, I am about to drop the other shoe, so for those of you paying attention, here is the critical piece. Even though Nkunku is not too expensive and is fully worth that price, 75-100 million euros is still a huge investment. And Real Madrid have already dropped 80 million euros (could reach 100 or more in the future) on another world-class talent in Aurelien Tchouameni.

So spending potentially 100 million euros on Nkunku is a hard sell for Florentino Perez in a sense, because he would not be a locked-in starter at a position. Nkunku would not start on the left wing or at striker, because Vinicius Jr. and Benzema are the obvious starters. He could start on the right wing, but that is not his best position.

That said, we could apply these same drawbacks to other starters. Gabriel Jesus is not a starting striker for Real Madrid. Tchouameni will not be an immediate starter either, but he will in the future. Do Real view Nkunku as a future full-time starter?

Real Madrid have the money to sign Nkunku. He can be a starting-caliber player in multiple roles, which helps a lot in terms of depth. Nkunku clearly has the quality to play for the Merengues. But the question is, do Real see a role for him in their squad? At striker? Did his performances at Leipzig convince them that he could be a long-term Benzema solution? If not, can he also play elsewhere?

dark. Next. Why Real Madrid will likely wait before showing interest in Serge Gnabry

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These are tricky questions. If the answers to enough of them are “yes” or positive, Nkunku’s price tag goes from “expensive” to “good deal”, given his superstar production from 2021/22. So the issue with Nkunku is not the price; he is worth that money on quality. The issue is if Carlo Ancelotti, Florentino Perez, and Real Madrid are sold on him as the right fit. And that is something worth analyzing in detail, as it is a complex topic for another day. (After all, there is a big difference between 75 and 100 million euros!)