The performances of Christopher Nkunku have been the one constant at RB Leipzig during the first half of 2021/22.
The story so far
Promoted to the Bundesliga in 2016, Leipzig have made their worst ever start to a top-flight season. Down in 10th, six points adrift of the top four, Die Roten Bullen have recorded six wins and four draws, whilst seven defeats at the halfway point is already as many as they suffered across the entire course of Julian Nagelsmann's final season in charge. Hot and cold form cost Jesse Marsch his job as head coach on 5 December; a year-ending home loss to lowly Arminia Bielefeld under successor Domenico Tedesco was symptomatic of a topsy-turvy transitional phase for last term's Bundesliga and DFB Cup runners-up.
Nkunku has not been plagued by Leipzig's collective inconsistencies. The Frenchman has a team-leading seven goals and five assists in the Bundesliga, and had a direct hand in nine (seven goals and two assists) during a difficult, and ultimately unsuccessful, UEFA Champions League group campaign. He's also made one and scored another across two DFB Cup fixtures.
Best game so far
Leipzig put six without reply past Hertha Berlin on Matchday 6 and got the better of Borussia Dortmund in November, but it's their 4-1 drubbing of Borussia Mönchengladbach in Tedesco's first game in charge they'll look to for inspiration in the months ahead. Nkunku played his part, with a goal and assist, while left-back Angelino and marquee summer signing Andre Silva teased a potentially fruitful connection.
Watch: Leipzig 4-1 Gladbach - highlights
One to watch
Dominik Szoboszlai has been in and out of the side, but a thigh injury to Emil Forsberg opens the door to regular starts for the Hungary international. On his day, he's proven himself to be a class apart in the playmaker role, and already has three goals and four assists to show for his first 16 Bundesliga outings (10 starts).
Watch: Dominik Szoboszlai scored two brilliant goals on his full Bundesliga debut
The view from inside the camp
"In the last three games, we’ve played four halves that were either good or very good. We’ll take that to build on. We know that we have a lot of work ahead of us and not much time to do so." - head coach Domenico Tedesco
Leipzig's first Bundesliga assignment of 2022 - a home game against mid-table Mainz - will provide an indication of how much progress the players have made under Tedesco. A two-legged play-off against Real Sociedad will determine whether the club get a shot at the UEFA Europa League proper, while an early April trip to Dortmund could have a major bearing on their prospects of playing in Europe for a sixth successive season.