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Transfers report: Chelsea swoop for RB Leipzig attacker Christopher Nkunku

A goal-scoring half-space dynamo once linked to Bayern Munich will instead sail across the sea.

RB Leipzig - VfL Bochum
“Please, not Chelsea!”
Photo by Jan Woitas/picture alliance via Getty Images

Chelsea FC are poised to poach RB Leipzig's 24-year-old Christopher Nkunku — once linked to Bayern Munich — per multiple reports. Last week, it emerged that the Premier League club had arranged a surprising medical in September for the talented attacking midfielder — after the summer transfer window had closed — and now The Athletic's David Ornstein is reporting that the Blues have secured a “pre-contract agreement”:

There has been some conjecture as to the status of the situation but The Athletic is told Nkunku has signed a pre-contract agreement with the west Londoners and that the Premier League side have committed to paying their German Bundesliga counterparts a price in excess of the 24-year-old’s €60million (£52.7m, $58.8m) release clause.

That release clause isn’t currently in effect, but will be by next summer’s transfer window. The proposed move is not until the 2023/24 season, so Chelsea are apparently paying over the odds in order to settle the business in advance — beating out what should be considerable competition from Europe’s elite. That list includes “other leading English teams”, per The Athletic. (So — Arsenal FC, Liverpool FC, Manchester City, Manchester United, West Ham, Newcastle, even Tottenham Hotspur?)

While this doesn’t appear at this stage to be a completely done deal, leaving some room for another team to jump in and turn Nkunku’s head, it looks to be at the point where it would have to collapse in order to not come about.

Bundesliga perspective

Nkunku would have been perfect for Julian Nagelsmann’s Bayern Munich, but that ship has now sailed.

For fans of German football, this is a downer that comes with an air of inevitability. Nkunku is a bright spark for the Bundesliga. The French international lit up the sky of 20 goals and 13 assists in the league last season, and is already up to six goals from eight games this year. RB Leipzig are one of Bayern’s most potent challengers — even if early results do not show their strength — and this is a major downgrade of their future prospects.

Particularly because, as our SBN sister site We Ain’t Got No History notes, there are also reports that this will be a double swoop — with the Blues eyeing the release clause for super 20-year-old Croatian defender Joško Gvardiol as well.

Both these signings make enormous sense for a Chelsea team — just a couple years removed from Champions League glory — that is currently lost at sea. They will help them stabilize at the back and add a potent goal threat from midfield. Less clear is how the likes of Leipzig will be able to reload if their top stars continue to get pinched from them so early in their ascendancy.

And so the talent drain from the Bundesliga continues apace — and not even directly to Bavaria. Who then will have the means to mount a sustained challenge to Bayern Munich?

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