RB Leipzig have made their first new signing of the summer, with right-back Nordi Mukiele joining from Montpellier HSC.
He could serve as competition for Lukas Klostermann at right-back, with Benno Schmitz leaving to join 1. FC Köln, however he has also played at centre-back for Montpellier.
The 20-year-old, who cost a reported fee of €16 million, has signed a five-year contract with the Bundesliga club.
Impressed in strong Montpellier defence
Mukiele was part of a Montpellier defence that conceded just 33 times in Ligue 1 last season, the second best defensive record behind runaway champions Paris Saint-Germain. He excelled as part of a back three but his strongest position is at right-back, where he played whenever coach Michel Der Zakarian opted to play with a back four.
He joined the club from Stade Laval, who were in Ligue 2 at the time but have since gone down, in January 2017. He played 50 Ligue 1 games for La Paillade, plus a handful of appearances in the two domestic cup competitions. He also contributed an assist in a game against OGC Nice last season.
He has also played for France at youth level, having caps with from the under-18s up to under-21s, although he has made just two appearances for the latter so far. Nevertheless, with the experience he is likely to gain at Leipzig, he will no doubt add to those in due course.
Another young French defender for Leipzig
Ralf Rangnick, Leipzig’s Sporting Director, said that the club had been keeping an eye on the player “for over a year,” and they are “extremely excited to be able to bring in one of Europe’s top defensive talents – despite a lot of competition.” He added that Mukiele “fits exactly what we’re looking for in a player and in a person.”
Mukiele himself meanwhile said that he was “really happy” the transfer had gone through, as “the ambition of the club and its philosophy are perfect for me.” He also believes that Leipzig will give him “the best opportunity to continue” his development.
He joins fellow young French defenders Dayot Upamecano and Ibrahima Konaté, as well as forward Jean-Kévin Augustin, at the club. He'll have to wait to find out who will be coaching him however, with Leipzig yet to appoint a replacement for Ralph Hasenhüttl. Rangnick himself has been tipped to take over the reins once more, especially now that leading contender Marco Rose has signed a new deal with sister club Red Bull Salzburg.
Quotes via RB Leipzig.