Christopher Nkunku may become impossible for Real Madrid in 2022 but easily achievable in 2023

Real Madrid transfer target Christopher Nkunku (Photo by RONNY HARTMANN/AFP via Getty Images)
Real Madrid transfer target Christopher Nkunku (Photo by RONNY HARTMANN/AFP via Getty Images) /

Christopher Nkunku is one of the most popular names linked to Real Madrid. The RB Leipzig star was the Bundesliga Player of the Year in 2021/22, deservingly winning the honors over a bigger name with more goals in Robert Lewandowski.

With 20 goals and 13 assists in the Bundesliga, Nkunku was both the primary goal-scorer and primary creator for Leipzig, leading his team to the DFB Pokal (the club’s first trophy) and a top-four finish after a nightmare start to the campaign. Nkunku’s ball progression, work rate, off-ball movement, creativity, and goal-scoring touch (his chips were particularly delicious) made him the most exciting player in an otherwise pedestrian season for the Bundesliga. It really was not even close.

Though Nkunku’s agent Pini Zahavi was in contact with big clubs in 2021, including Real Madrid, RB Leipzig are aware of how important he is. They have no intention of selling him, unless a team is willing to offer something approaching 100 million euros.

Furthering this point, the Leipziger Volkszeitung’s podcast “Die Ruckfallzieher” states, via’s Rune Gjerulff, that Christopher Nkunku will reportedly not move in the 2022 summer transfer window and will instead sign a contract extension beyond 2023/24.

Real Madrid may have a chance to sign Christopher Nkunku for 60 million in ’23

That would seem to make Nkunku off limits, right? An extension?

But here is the catch, of course. It is something RB Leipzig have done consistently with top players they know they cannot replace yet but know they cannot keep long-term.

Nkunku’s new deal will reportedly include a 60 million euro release clause that is active from the summer 2023 transfer window, meaning Leipzig are preparing for Nkunku’s departure next year but will tell him to stay this year as a courtesy so they can transition without their most important player.

Of course, there is no way of confirming any of this. But it makes a lot of sense, given Nkunku’s importance and how Leipzig normally operate.

From Real Madrid’s perspective, this works out well. While Nkunku is worth 100 million euros, Real probably would not want to spend that much money on a player who would not start every game in the attack.

It’s not that Nkunku isn’t good enough. The issue is that they have Karim Benzema at striker, Vinicius Jr. on the left wing, and do not play with a No. 10. Nkunku can play as a right winger or even in other positions, which is actually why he’s such a good value at even a much higher price than 60 million euros. But for Madrid, getting into a bidding war for Nkunku and not being able to fit his best position is very risky.

In 2023, though, Real Madrid could sign him for 60 million euros, which is a bargain. And since it is a release clause, there is no bidding war. Nkunku controls his own destiny. That could mean a reunion with PSG if they pay him more and he likes that offer, but it gives Real a fighting chance with anyone. As we just saw with the Aurelien Tchouameni signing, Real can still beat PSG for top players on the market – and Tchouameni did not even have the benefit of a release clause as a Ligue 1 player.

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

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On top of that, Real will have more clarity on how Nkunku would fit and if they need his profile in 2023. Los Blancos are the reigning Champions League winners and thus not desperate for a forward despite missing out on Kylian Mbappe, but they could see a greater need in 2023, especially considering Nkunku’s versatility. At that time, if this report holds true, Nkunku could be signed at an affordable price, making the discussion on fit a little less complicated from Real’s perspective.