During Chelsea’s last pre-season game before the start of the 2023/24 season, Christopher Nkunku sustained an injury. The attacker had only played just over 20 minutes of the game against Borussia Dortmund before picking up an injury.
Chelsea and Nkunku himself, have hinted that his return to action is very close, but just how close is yet to be revealed.
Nkunku joined the Blues during their busy summer transfer window. His only action so far for the team was during the pre-season spell in the USA.
Right from the get-go, the Frenchman became a fan favourite, as his positive impact was obvious to see. In just three games, he had accumulated three goals for the Blues and had proved a key part of Chelsea’s attack.
Nkunku and Jackson’s partnership
When Nicolas Jackson was signed as Chelsea’s striker, there were doubts over whether he would be the right person to take on the role of main striker. However, those doubts were quickly put to bed when pre-season started, and Jackson showed very promising signs.
A striker’s job is to score goals. But over the past few years, Chelsea have not had a striker that has been comfortable in front of the goal since Didier Drogba. But when Jackson and Nkunku played on the pitch together during pre-season, it looked like Chelsea’s goal-scoring problems would now be a thing of the past.
The expectations for Nkunku were high. As for Jackson, he was largely unknown to anyone who did not follow La Liga in great detail. Their connection on the pitch was therefore quite unexpected, and something for Chelsea fans to smile about.
Nkunku’s preferred role is playing just off the striker. However, he can play as a winger, and can even take on the goalscoring responsibility as a striker if need be. His strengths could prove to be essential to Chelsea and Jackson in particular. Seeing as Nkunku’s ability to dribble past defenders, and accurate through balls as well as key passes could be the perfect set-up for goals that Jackson could score.
Nkunku’s return seems to be happening at the right time, as Jackson’s finishing has improved over the past few games now.
When the 2023/24 season started, the Jackson that was seen during pre-season seemed to have vanished, and in his place was a well-rounded striker who lacked confidence in front of the goal. He has created and been a part of big chances, but unfortunately been unable to convert them into a goal.
Recent form however is showing maturity in the striker’s style of play. A hattrick against Tottenham and a goal against title defenders Manchester City – Chelsea’s most recent games – have shown why Chelsea has had so much faith in the Senegalese player.
Jackson’s finishing might still need some polishing, but it is an improvement nonetheless. With Nkunku coming in, it could be all the better for Jackson and Chelsea.
St. James’ Park could welcome Nkunku
Nkunku has voiced interest in featuring in Chelsea’s next match against Newcastle. However, the club is not so keen on rushing him back, as the Newcastle game seems too soon. The possibility of the Frenchman being brought on in the final stages of the game against Newcastle has also been ruled out for the most part, with Pochettino saying the player needs more time.
What seems to be more of a guarantee, is that Nkunku will get a chance to feature in December. Chelsea faces Brighton and Manchester United in the first week of December, and that might be a more ideal time for the attacking midfielder to make his competitive Chelsea debut.