Defender | RB Leipzig | France
All the ingredients are there. The ideal blend of physicality and technicality. Mukiele has all the makings of an exemplary modern defender. His versatility allows him to comfortably operate on the right flank, but the Frenchman’s future lies in the heart of the back line.
At 6’1”, the 21-year-old is able to compete effectively in the air, and he truly commits himself to such duels whilst out on the pitch. Despite his slender frame, Mukiele also possesses impressive upper-body strength. His pace rounds off an arsenal of physical attributes that sees him equipped to perform the aggressive, front-footed defensive style he prefers.
Whilst he is certainly is full-blooded, that isn’t to suggest he is rash. The timing of Mukiele’s tackles is generally impeccable, and he rarely goes to ground and fails to cleanly take the ball. Of course, there is room for improvement, but recent transfer links with Manchester City are hardly surprising considering the raw materials Pep Guardiola would have to work with.
2018 has been…
…a step up.
Montpellier enjoyed a strong campaign last time out, attaining a 10th place Ligue 1 finish, largely due to their resilient defence. Throughout the 38-game season, Montpellier conceded just 33 goals - a record second only to that of the title winners, PSG. In contrast, 11th placed Dijon saw their ‘keeper beaten on 73 occasions.
Much of this solidity was due to the influence of Mukiele, who despite his tender years was an assured, composed and authoritative figure at the back throughout. So impressive were the youngster’s displays that they garnered him a well-earned summer switch to RB Leipzig in the Bundesliga.
Mukiele has immediately imposed himself as a regular at the Red Bull Arena (ugh), be it from the start or from the bench. Though, Ralf Rangnick has shifted the defender back out into a right-back berth, with the likes of Dayot Upamecano, Willi Orban and Ibrahima Konate proving tough to usurp in the centre.
The Frenchman has to establish himself as a week in, week out starter for the German outfit. Preferably forcing his way into a centre-back role, where he impressed in his latter days at Montpellier and his attributes suggest he should thrive in. The experience of playing regularly for an ambitious side in the German top flight ought to aid the defender in coming on in leaps and bounds.
Long-term, Mukiele’s plan must be to make the step up from the U21s to the senior French national team. Given Didier Deschamps is yet to give even Manchester City’s Aymeric Laporte a run out for the reigning world champions though, this may well prove far easier said than done.
B - A really positive year for a very promising player