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Bundesliga Watch: RB Leipzig’s present and future

The Pokal winners aren’t going to stop here. They’re going for it all next season!


RB Leipzig have been the best team in Germany in 2022. That is not a debatable statement. Bayern Munich had a massive drop in form and coughed over the finish line in the league while choking against Villarreal in the Champions League, and Borussia Dortmund were the most hot and cold team in the league, scoring six but then conceding four the next week. Leipzig may not have been able to win the Europa League, falling at the semi-finals, and Eintracht Frankfurt may have gone on to win it all but Leipzig’s domestic form covers that crack. SC Freiburg had a pretty good run but Leipzig pipped them to the Pokal final while down to ten men in a simply fantastic comeback towards the second half, as much as I hate to admit it. Domenico Tedesco transformed a struggling squad of individuals into a team that plays balanced, quick, fast-flowing but pass-and-play oriented football. For all that is said about their frankly distasteful use of the 50+1 rule, they do play a breakneck and ideologically ‘German’ style of football.

Will RB Leipzig be building upon this with squad reinforcements this summer? The answer seems to actually be no, as the Leipzig outfit have not expressed interest in any players so far, but of course this may — and likely will — change as the summer window progresses, especially if Chelsea manage to nab Leipzig’s key man Christopher Nkunku, as well as advanced discussions taking place about Konrad Laimer with Bayern Munich.

Goalkeeper: Péter Gulácsi

SC Freiburg v RB Leipzig - DFB Cup Final 2022 Photo by Roland Krivec/vi/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

Péter Gulácsi has established himself as one of the most consistent keepers in the Bundesliga and in Europe over the course of the last five years or so. Now 32, he is in the middle of what many would consider the prime of a goalkeeper’s career, and if the 2022/23 season is anything like the season just gone by, expect him to be Leipzig’s number 1 for years to come. Special mention goes to Yvon Mvogo returning to Leipzig from his loan spell at PSV, where he was respectable in the sprinkling of games he got, but may be sold this summer as his contract expires in 2023.

Centre-backs: Willi Orbán, Joško Gvardiol & Mohamed Šimakan

SpVgg Greuther Fürth - RB Leipzig Photo by Daniel Karmann/picture alliance via Getty Images

Can we take a second to talk about Willi Orbán? I am surprised that no European giant has gone all in for him. The guy seems to have not only a solid, but an outstanding individual season every year at the heart of Leipzig’s defense. I guess having a centre back without midfielder-like technical ability isn’t for everyone.

Mohamed Šimakan has shown his last season at RC Strasbourg was not a fluke, being one of the most consistent presences at the back, alongside new European sensation Joško Gvardiol, who has quickly established himself as one of the most exci—okay he’s linked to Manchester United, he’s still exciting, okay?

Both these centre backs have shown the ability to progress the ball both centrally and out wide with passes into midfield and with carries into space, Gvardiol especially showcasing his ability to function as basically a left back at times, running down the left flank with the ball. Special mention to Lukas Klostermann who has been generally serviceable both at centre back and at right wing back.

Wing-backs: Angeliño & Nordi Mukiele

FC Augsburg - RB Leipzig Photo by Matthias Balk/picture alliance via Getty Images

The Bundesliga seems to have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to quality left back/left midfielder hybrids. Alphonso Davies, Filip Kostić, Raphaël Guerreiro, Angeliño, David Raum and Christian Günter all stake a claim to be in the top 5 in the world for this position, and considering I mentioned 6, there is clearly a lot of competition. Angeliño has put his stamp on the Leipzig squad, becoming a regular fixture even when he was just on loan from Manchester City. The Spaniard has been a key cog in the Domeneco Tedesco machine, chipping in with 2 goals to add to his tally of 5 assists in the league, alongside a goal and 2 assists in the Europa League knockouts and 3 assists in the Champions League group stages.

Nordi Mukiele on the other hand has been more reserved going forward, with 2 goals and 4 assists to speak of in all competitions, but his quality cannot be understated. Mukiele is an honest-to-goodness centre back who has the pace and passing ability to play on the right. At times we even see the defensive shape warp to have Mukiele playing as a right back with Gvardiol taking a wide left berth while Angeliño bombs forward. Mukiele has been unbeatable at times in 1v1 situations out wide, having the astuteness to know when to zone and when to hound attackers, and having the pace to keep up with them if he manages to get beaten once.

Central Midfielders: Kevin Kampl & Amadou Haidara

RB Leipzig v VfL Wolfsburg - DFB Cup: Quarter Final Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

Kevin Kampl has been an important figure for Leipzig in the last few years, often being the only real box to box presence with his midfield partners rotating from game to game. While he did not have the best of seasons, he will continue his stay at Leipzig next season.

Amadou Haidara on the other hand has only recently risen to the top of the squad. Joining Leipzig in January 2019, he did not really leave a mark on the team, only getting a handful of minutes off the bench until the 2020/21 season where he would become a pivotal member of the squad both as an inside forward and as a central midfielder as Julian Nagelsmann would often employ players in both roles (see also: Marcel Sabitzer and Dani Olmo). Haidara would have his season cut short due to injury in March, but the possible sale of Konrad Laimer and an expected cleaner injury record will see him return to the starting XI consistently.

Attackers: Christopher Nkunku, Dominik Szoboszlai & André Silva

RB Leipzig v VfL Bochum - Bundesliga Photo by Alex Grimm/Getty Images

Now that is an elite front line.

Dominik Szoboszlai was simply fantastic, scoring 10 and assisting 9 while coming off the bench in half of his 44 appearances. His goals included long distance screamers and enchanting free kicks, all goals that mark a player with a future ahead of him. Honourable mentions must go to Emil Forsberg and Dani Olmo who deputised very well in the absences of Szoboszlai and André Silva amongst others.

André Silva had a rocky start to the season. Under Jesse Marsch, he definitely did not live up to the expectations anyone who had watched his previous season at Frankfurt would have placed upon him. However, under Tedesco, he quickly buckled up and began to contribute once again, ending the season with 18 goals and 4 assists in all competitions. Often swapping minutes with long-term Leipzig servant Youssouf Poulsen, I think Silva will be given the greenlight to start more now under Tedesco.

And on the right, we have 4-time Bundesliga Player of the Month, the Bundesliga Player of the Season, and overall ridiculous footballer, Christopher Nkunku. 35 goals and 14 assists in a season are Ballon d’Or-esque figures. I don’t think even with all the hype around him that people realise just how insane this guy truly is. We had already seen shades of this talent in his last two seasons, Nkunku scored 7 and assisted 8 in the 20/21 season, and scored 5 while assisting 13 in just the Bundesliga in the 19/20 season, with a good chunk of his appearances being off the bench. He is the best player in the Bundesliga right now. God I wish Bayern Munich could purchase him. Well, a boy can dream.

RB Leipzig are very well-placed to break the stranglehold Bayern Munich has on the Bundesliga next season. Bayern Munich know this all too well, and we can see they are moving quick this window to secure their own future while Leipzig to push on and become atleast a force in Europe even if they don’t manage to beat Bayern to the title just yet.

What do you guys think? Will Leipzig be the team to dethrone Bayern Munich? If it were to happen, would you be content with it being a team that violates the ideal nature of the 50+1 rule? The forum is open as always down below.

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