Christopher Nkunku has contributed to a goal every 62 minutes so far in his debut Bundesliga season with RB Leipzig, and the Frenchman says he can do even more after settling into German life.
It's been a lightning start to Bundesliga life for 22-year-old - as of 14 November - Nkunku. The Frenchman has scored three goals and provided four assists from just four starts in the league for Leipzig, with 10 appearances in total.
The former Paris Saint-Germain attacking midfielder is just one of a host of highly talented young Frenchmen in Leipzig's ranks, but wants to immerse himself into German life. Speaking to bundesliga.com, Nkunku talks about life in Leipzig so far, working under Julian Nagelsmann and how Die Roten Bullen's state-of-the-art facilities are above and beyond those at PSG...
bundesliga.com: You have been in Leipzig for four months now. How do you feel?
Christopher Nkunku: "I feel great. I've adapted very well in terms of lifestyle. I like the city a lot – everything is going well."
bundesliga.com: How have you settled in?
Nkunku: "Very simply - through football and through spending time with my family, who visit very often. Overall, it's very similar to my life in France."
bundesliga.com: Do you live with your family here in Leipzig?
Nkunku: "No, I live with my girlfriend. My family come to visit very often. Almost every week, in fact. Everything is good."
bundesliga.com: You said in an interview at the start of the season that you would like to become "a little bit German". What does that mean?
Nkunku: "It was in response to a journalist's question. I meant it in the sense that I want to learn about German culture and also to learn how to speak German. In order to adapt well, one has to learn the language and be able to speak. It's a bit grand to say I want to become German, but it's certainly true that I want to learn German culture, the lifestyle of Germans. I want to fully immerse myself."
bundesliga.com: How much of the German culture have you been able to take in so far? Are you learning the language?
Nkunku: "I've not yet succeeded. I'm taking it bit by bit, it's getting easier all the time for me. I have my German course regularly, I'm trying to learn as quickly as possible."
bundesliga.com: Do you find it difficult learning German?
Nkunku: "It's hard to learn as it's a difficult language. But I've also been told by people that the French language is very difficult. I have the impression that all languages are difficult to learn. It's quite a difficult language on the whole, but I have to learn it. It's as simple as that."
bundesliga.com: You are the only summer arrival at Leipzig who is playing regularly. How have you managed to settle in so quickly?
Nkunku: "The club have helped me a lot, the executives, the coaches, my teammates. Everyone is helping me. When I need something they respond straight away. That's more important. Also, I try to work hard, I work hard every day. That's how I continue to improve and develop an important role in the team."
Watch: Nkunku's stunning goal vs. Bayer Leverkusen!
Nkunku: "Yes, they spoke to me at length about the club. We spoke about how previous years have been and plans for the new year. They were already here so they knew everything. That's why I listened to them."
bundesliga.com: You have scored three goals and set up four already this season. Are you pleased with that?
Nkunku: "Yes, I'm happy enough given it's a new league for me. Even though I know that I could do a lot more. I could always improve my statistics, there are always situations in matches where I could've made a better decision. But I'm very satisfied given the fact that it's my first season, or rather my first months here."
bundesliga.com: You have played almost every position so far this season, though primarily on the left wing. What is your favourite position?
Nkunku: "I like to play on the left wing. I get more touches of the ball, I can make more of a difference. I enjoy playing other positions as well, I can play in a lot of them. That's not a worry for me."
bundesliga.com: At PSG you operated primarily as a central midfielder. How different is it playing in the middle compared to out wide?
Nkunku: "I played a lot of positions in Paris. The differences aren't huge, it's the same position. The way in which the coach wants you to play can change a bit. But it's a similar position to the one I played at Paris Saint-Germain."
bundesliga.com: What do you consider to be your role in Nagelsmann's system?
Nkunku: "To initiate attacking plays and to create chances. And to be more decisive in finishing these moves off – be it with a shot, a pass or something else. But to finish moves with something concrete, not least to avoid getting hit on the counter-attack."
bundesliga.com: Are you well suited to Nagelsmann's style of play?
Nkunku: "Yes, I'm very well suited. I spoke with him prior to signing for Leipzig. I'm very satisfied with how things are going."
bundesliga.com: Nagelsmann was very pleased that the club signed you and said you could play as "a box-to-box midfielder, in central attacking midfield or as a wide forward." What would you say are your main strengths?
Nkunku: "When I have the ball, it's my technical skills. I think that's my main strength. I'm better with the ball than without the ball – creating chances, being decisive, making things happen in an offensive sense, and scoring goals. Those are my main strengths."
bundesliga.com: And where can you still improve?
Nkunku: "I think I could improve without the ball – tactically. My positioning and body shape. Training more and more, sprints, we're doing a lot of that and I'm capable. I need to do this."
bundesliga.com: The Bundesliga is very exciting at the moment – what opportunities are there for Leipzig at the top of the table?
Nkunku: "We're a young club, ambitious. We're taking it match-by-match. We're not thinking about the end of the season. We still have a long way to go, we're taking things game-by-game. We play each match to win. We'll see where we are in the table come the end of the season. We will see."
Watch: Leipzig's impressive start to the season was highlighted by an 8-0 drubbing of Mainz!
bundesliga.com: What personal aims have you set yourself?
Nkunku: "Personally, yes, but I'd like to keep them to myself. I set myself aims every single day to improve as a player. That's how I think – I hope that I can reach my objectives by the end of the season."
bundesliga.com: What are the main differences between Ligue 1 in France and the Bundesliga?
Nkunku: "The main point is the difference in intensity. I very rarely see players walking on the pitch, or not concentrating. Everyone is sprinting all the time, every action is carried out with intensity. That's what has struck me most. The tactics are slightly less important in the Bundesliga; every action is carried out with high intensity – be it to win the ball back, create a chance. That's what has struck me most."
bundesliga.com: You said previously in an interview that the infrastructure here at Leipzig is much more modern and developed than at PSG: What has impressed you most?
Nkunku: "That made an impression on me as I saw the infrastructure first-hand. From the academy and training in the same place as the first-team at the centre. The number of pitches, even the quality of the changing rooms. Paris Saint-Germain want to construct a similar centre, I expect it'll be much larger from what I've seen. That's one thing that made a big impression on me."
bundesliga.com: For PSG, you played alongside stars such as Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani. What did you learn from them?
Nkunku: "They're great competitors. They're obsessed with winning. That's how we win. In terms of football, their style of play was hugely impressive. It was always good fun training together and playing together with them."
bundesliga.com: How do you spend your free time away from football? Do you have any hobbies?
Nkunku: “At the moment I'm spending a lot of time sorting my apartment out, step-by-step. I go walking now and again around the city of Leipzig – it's very beautiful. I often go to the shopping centre nearby too."
bundesliga.com: Who do you spend your free time with?
Nkunku: "That depends. Sometimes with my girlfriend, sometimes with my teammates. We go out to eat at restaurants and things like that. Also with Diego [Demme] – we like to play table football. He does (speak French) – it's not perfect, but we understand each other."