Liverpool are now unexpectedly desperate to sign a forward this summer after it was revealed that Sadio Mane wants to leave the club this summer, with a bid already rejected from Bayern Munich and another imminent.
Mane has been the linchpin in Liverpool’s success under Jurgen Klopp, since joining the side in 2016 the Senegalese winger has scored 120 goals and delivered 48 assists to lead the Merseyside club in winning the Premier League title for the first time ever, a Champions League, FA Cup and Carabao Cup.
As a result, it will be a hard challenge to fill the boots of the AFCON winner this summer, with not only his attacking output but his diversity and proven effectiveness across the front three positions which is an attribute rarely found in players combined with the goal contributions Mane has delivered in his time.
The Merseyside club have already been linked with a number of replacements and the names keep on coming with Christopher Nkunku one of the names to be added to their shortlist in recent months. That’s for good reason because he has had a phenomenal season for RB Leipzig.
The £64m gem who was dubbed “glorious” by journalist Andrew Dickson and called a “nightmare” by ESPN has impressively scored 35 goals and delivered 20 assists in 51 appearances with a goal contribution every 76 minutes.
However, it’s not just his scoring habits that are attracting interest from the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea and the Reds.
Nkunku has created 16 big chances, made 1.9 key passes, won 5.9 duels and taken 2.4 shots on average per game as well as being successful in the large majority of his dribbles (67%), proving that he is an absolute nuisance for his opponents and offers more depth to his game than just goals.
Former Leipzig boss Jesse Marsch hailed the Frenchman in a review of Nkunku’s performances and style of play, saying in a press conference:
“Christopher has no weaknesses. He is young and still wants a lot more.
“Working with him is a lot of fun as he is really intelligent and has a lot of potential.”
Darwin Nunez has been another player who has been heavily linked with a move to Anfield but plays a much more restricted role as an out and out striker for Benfica.
Thus, signing Nkunku could be a much better like for like signing to replace Mane due to his diversity in positioning, something that Klopp likes to exploit when managing in-game.
The 24-year-old can play effectively as an attacking midfielder, striker, left and right winger whereas Nunez produces his best work deployed strictly as a number nine in the striker role with SofaScore rating his passing as a weakness, which could be an issue for Liverpool’s free-flowing forward line.
With that being said, signing up Nkunku could be a huge piece of business in Liverpool’s pursuit to find a replacement for Mane, bringing in a player who can play in the striker role as well as be effortlessly capable of switching positions when needed.