Just six months after joining the club, Niels Nkounkou is already trying to leave Saint-Étienne. The French defender was absent from the club’s season opener, a 1-0 loss to Grenoble.
Nkounkou joined Saint-Étienne in January, with the once-mighty club struggling. Les Verts, having suffered relegation from Ligue 1 the previous season, were rooted to the bottom of Ligue 2 with just 15 points. Additionally, they had the worst defensive record in the league.
Nkounkou was loaned in from Everton and made an immediate impact. In 20 matches, the 22-year-old scored six goals and assisted eight as Saint-Étienne comfortably escaped relegation, finishing in tenth. Unsurprisingly, the club made the move permanent for an estimated €2 million and was expected to sell him for a profit.
French site L’Équipe reported the club received two offers from Bundesliga side Eintracht Frankfurt this summer, both of which were turned down. Furious, Nkounkou gave an interview saying he wants to leave and the club is keeping him there against his will. Executive President Jean-François Soucasse countered by saying that he needs to stay and the club is counting on him.
Nkounkou is determined to leave, however. He has stated he will complain every day if he has to, and, while other excuses have been given, it’s clear he skipped the match against Grenoble to force a move. Saint-Étienne might need to sell their star and move on.