Premier League • England

‘Outstanding’ player tipped to flop at Chelsea before he’s even joined as manager issues ‘very worried’ claim

RB Leipzig trio Willi Orban, Josko Gvardiol and Christopher Nkunku

Ralf Rangnick is seriously concerned an RB Leipzig player will follow in his footsteps by moving to the Premier League and underperforming massively, with Chelsea viewed as the wrong next destination for his talent.

Rangnick was named as Manchester United’s interim manager following the sacking of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in November 2021. Rangnick was expected to make a big impact in England as he has affectionately been labelled the founder of gegenpressing, a tactic which has been picked up by the likes of Jurgen Klopp and Julian Nagelsmann.

However, the German did not live up to expectations at Old Trafford. Under his management, Man Utd endured their worst season in the Premier League era, picking up just 58 points, a goal difference of zero and ultimately finishing sixth in the table.

While Rangnick was at the helm Man Utd were also dumped out of the FA Cup by Championship side Middlesbrough, as well as losing in the Champions League round of 16 to Atletico Madrid.

Rangnick has since taken charge of the Austria national team. However, he still seems to be looking out for his old club RB Leipzig, with whom he has been a manager and director.

During an interview with ZDF (via Goal), the 64-year-old has revealed he is worried ‘outstanding’ attacking midfielder Christopher Nkunku will struggle amid the ‘state’ Chelsea are in. Chelsea have agreed a deal with Leipzig worth over £50m which will see Nkunku move to Stamford Bridge this summer.

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“I’m thinking of a player whose arrival at RB Leipzig I was a little bit involved in: Christopher Nkunku. For me, one of the best attacking midfielders currently available and who, in my opinion, decided to move to Chelsea far too early,” Rangnick said.

“Can you imagine that such an outstanding player comes to a club that is in the state Chelsea are in at the moment? Personally, this hurts my heart. If I were his advisor or his father, I would be very worried right now.”

Manager ‘cannot recommend’ players going to Chelsea

He added: “At the moment, no matter who comes as a coach, you can’t really recommend anyone to go there. The very first thing to do is establish some sort of strategy and reduce the squad to a reasonable size that any coach can work with.”

Nkunku is undoubtedly a top player capable of shining the Prem. This season at Leipzig he has managed 17 goals and five assists from just 28 appearances, so perhaps Rangnick is writing him off a bit early.

But it is clear that Nkunku will not be able to perform at his best if Chelsea play as poorly next season as they have been doing in recent weeks.

The France international should probably go straight into Chelsea’s starting lineup, given his top performances over the past few years. However, that is easier said than done due to Chelsea’s plentiful options in attack.

The new Blues boss will also be able to use Raheem Sterling, Kai Havertz, Mykhaylo Mudryk and Noni Madueke in attack. Joao Felix could be added to that list if his loan is made permanent, while the likes of Christian Pulisic, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Hakim Ziyech and Romelu Lukaku could be sold.

Nkunku will have confidence in his own ability and will believe he has all the attributes to become a big hit at Chelsea. However, it is clear that the circumstances surrounding his arrival are far from ideal.

Meanwhile, Chelsea look set to rival Manchester United for the capture of a Dortmund star after stepping up their efforts to land him.