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Next week-long absence: Nkunku’s debut season a mess

Christopher Nkunku is set back several weeks by a new injury. Chelsea coach Mauricio Pochettino feels for the Frenchman, who had a very different experience in the summer

Christopher Nkunku just can’t find his feet. The Frenchman suffered an injury after coming on as a substitute in the League Cup final against Liverpool FC on Sunday and will miss his team for the time being, head coach Mauricio Pochettino confirmed on Tuesday. The Argentine spoke of a downtime of “three to four weeks”.

A knee injury in the summer had sidelined Nkunku for over 100 days shortly after his transfer from Leipzig to Stamford Bridge, and the attacking player was only able to make his competitive debut for the Blues at the end of November. Following a hip injury, Nkunku missed almost the whole of January – and is now likely to miss the whole of March as well.

Of course, Nkunku had imagined his debut season in London to be very different. To date, he has only played ten competitive matches for Chelsea – seven in the Premier League (two goals), two in the League Cup and one in the FA Cup. In the latter competition, Nkunku will have to watch how Chelsea fare against rivals Leeds United under coach Daniel Farke in the round of 16 on Wednesday

Pochettino: “He was scary on the pitch “

Pochettino feels for Nkunku. “It’s difficult for him,” said the Chelsea coach: “We watched him in preparation, he was scary on the pitch – until he had his knee injury. Now it’s been almost eight months and even when he’s in, he’s not the same player.”

The enormous potential of the player “we saw in Germany” has not yet been realized by Nkunku at Chelsea. And it is “unfair” to compare Nkunku with his “Bundesliga version”. The current Premier League eleventh-placed team could have used a Nkunku in top form better than ever at this stage: Their next five league opponents are Brentford (A), Newcastle (H), Arsenal (A), Burnley (H) and Manchester United (H).



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