Bundesliga Player of the Season 2021-22 Christopher Alan Nkunku received his first call-up to the French national team in March. Find out more about how he focuses on the next round of challenges and how he has made his home in Leipzig.
Christopher, you were voted Bundesliga Player of the Season in 2021-22. How did that feel?
“It is a big award to win. It wasn’t something I was expecting at the start of the season, but I knew that if I worked hard, I would receive recognition. And that’s exactly what happened.”
What were the reasons for your excellent performance in the Bundesliga last season?
“I think the key was preparing well for matches. Even though we didn’t make a good start to the season as a team, we were all focused on raising our levels individually. And that’s why we enjoyed a much better second half to the season. In the end, we were able to win the DFB Pokal and qualify for the Champions League.”
What has changed since you received your call up to the France national team?
“I received my first call up to the national team in March. I was full of emotion. Then I was focussed on getting the call up for the second round of international fixtures. And I think you could see that out on the pitch. I am always focussed on improving and raising my level.”
What did it do to boost your confidence?
“My confidence has always been high. Sometimes I have certain doubts, but my confidence has never left me. And I try to always show that out on the pitch. I also work hard to further build this confidence. Most of the time, confidence is key to helping you achieve your goals.”
Have you spoken to Didier Deschamps yet about the upcoming World Cup?
“No, not yet. We haven’t had the chance. We were focused on the Nations League. The World Cup comes later. We will speak about the World Cup when the time comes.”
Who do you think are the favourites to win the World Cup?
“There are lots of good teams. There are always certain nations that are amongst the favourites every four years, but all teams are highly motivated. Everyone will want to raise their level given it’s a World Cup. We will have an important role to play in the tournament as standing champions. But there are some great teams who will be looking to make an impact.”
You played an extremely successful season with RB Leipzig last year – does that help going into the new season?
“It’s very simple – I feel great here at Leipzig. As we saw at the end of last season, I was able to raise my level. The club has also shown that they would like to keep me here as part of the team, which shows how much they value me and how much confidence they have in me. The DFB Pokal final win last season as well. It was an incredible moment and I hope to have many more such moments with RB Leipzig.”
What did the DFB Pokal win mean to you?
“It was massive. It was the first major title for the club. It was also a very tough match for us. It was very thrilling – in the end it went to penalties, and we managed to secure the title.”
You think you can challenge Bayern for the title this season?
“The key will be to remain consistent. As we saw last season, we started poorly and couldn’t win the title. And in my first season at Leipzig, we started well and were in first place in December but then dropped down. Consistency is key – winning matches all the time. That’s the only way of beating Bayern to the title.”
The Supercup game against Bayern is just around the corner. Are you looking forward to the game?
“It is a trophy. Bayern will be determined to win this trophy just like we are. I don’t think we have yet reached our highest level as the season has not started yet. But it is an important match in our preparation for the season.”
What is your prediction for the game?
“I hope we will win. We will do everything we can to get the win in front of our fans in the stadium. I’m sure it will be a great game in any case.” What do the signings of Mané and Haller mean for the Bundesliga?
“It shows that the league is of a very high quality – the fact that players like Mané have chosen to come here. It underlines the quality of the league, and his arrival will raise that level even further. I’m sure they will get lots of goals in the Bundesliga.”