An Elderly Green is Applying for the Paris Olympics!

Niels Nkounkou, now playing for Eintracht Frankfurt, is thriving in Germany with 30 matches played, including 19 starts, as well as 3 goals and 3 assists. At 23 years old, the former AS Saint-Etienne player does not hide his ambition to compete in the 2024 Paris Olympics.

A key player in the second half of last season for Saint-Etienne with 6 goals and 8 assists in 20 appearances, Niels Nkounkou, initially loaned from Everton, was later bought by ASSE for 2 million euros. Quickly, rumors of his departure surfaced and when Eintracht Frankfurt showed interest in the French U21 international, Nkounkou made it clear in an interview with L’Equipe: “If I have to tell them every day that I want to leave, I will. I won’t give up. Keeping a player against his will is not the right solution. I sincerely hope the situation will be resolved soon because I am stressed out every day with this instead of focusing on my football.”

A successful move to the Bundesliga

After two initial offers in early July and early August deemed unsatisfactory by ASSE’s board, Nkounkou left Saint-Etienne at the end of the transfer window to join Frankfurt for 11 million euros, including bonuses. Criticized by Saint-Etienne fans upon his departure, it must be said that Nkounkou’s gamble seems to have paid off, as he recounted to the German site “Everything happened so fast… The coach called me directly into the squad for the Saturday afternoon match. I initially sat on the bench and at halftime, he asked me how long I could play. I was so excited that I replied ’20 minutes.’ I wanted to play as soon as possible. On my third or fourth touch, I equalized to make it 1-1. My whole family was there, it was quite extraordinary.”

A first half of the season for adaptation

Following his impressive start, the remainder of Nkounkou’s first half of the season was more challenging: “I think the first half of the season was a kind of adjustment period for me: new league, new teammates, new facilities.” The former Marseille player had to wait until the 16th matchday to make an impact. Coming on as a substitute in the 78th minute, he provided two assists to help his team secure a 2-1 victory over Borussia Monchengladbach. Since that match, in the last 8 games, Nkounkou has averaged 67.5 minutes per game with 2 goals and 3 assists, showcasing his offensive and defensive qualities that make him almost indispensable: “I am fortunate to be fast and to have a natural physical condition. I am a very offensive player who likes to cross, take on opponents one-on-one, and play offensively. But I am also a good defensive player, although I can certainly still improve in that area.”

A chance to be at the Paris 2024 Olympics?

His strong performances could lead to a spot in the Paris 2024 Olympics? While it remains hypothetical, Nkounkou dreams of it: “Playing in the Olympics would make me very proud. But since only three players over 23 can be selected, it will be very difficult.” Called up last June to compete in the U21 European Championship, which ended with a painful quarter-final defeat against Ukraine (1-3), Nkounkou is now too old to be eligible for the U21 team. With only three players over 23 allowed in the Olympic squad, alongside established left-backs like Truffert (Rennes) and Locko (Brest), the chances of seeing the former Saint-Etienne player at the Olympics seem slim. However, hope remains. Stay tuned for updates…

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