Christopher Nkunku is having a lot of fun on vacation before he begins his Chelsea career, but he already seems to be dreading a certain test from Mauricio Pochettino. The French forward is coming to Stamford Bridge with a lot of expectations after excelling at RB Leipzig.
He won the Bundesliga Player of the Season award for his heroics in the 2022/23 campaign. Nkunku scored 23 goals and provided nine goals in all competitions, convincing the Blues to pay £52 million for him. The 25-year-old is a highly versatile player, which should help him fit into Pochettino’s plans.
Nkunku can play in either wing, as a no.10 and even as a centre-forward if necessary. He’s highly exciting to watch because of his impressive dribbling ability and creative final product. Despite all his skills with the ball, however, that will not be enough at Chelsea.
Christopher Nkunku given stern warning about Pochettino’s Gacon Test
That is because Pochettino is a demanding manager that encourages an intense playing style. He demands his players to be the hardest workers on the pitch and cover a lot of distance in every game. The Argentine gaffer encourages a high press playing style, encouraging everyone to get out of their comfort zone and bully the opponents.
It’s quite clear that Nkunku knows all this and he’s sort of scared about what is coming up after his holidays. In a recent Instagram post where Nkunku is showing his holiday scenes, Chelsea defender Thiago Silva gave him a funny warning before he joins the squad.
Silva commented: ‘Buddy. Holidays are over!’ to which the France international replied ‘Enjoying the last days before I suffer’. Many fans started wondering about what Nkunku meant by ‘suffering’. Was it was just a jibe at how he’ll have to start working hard after slacking off in pre-season?
What is the Gacon Test?
It appears not. Nkunku might be refereeing Pochettino’s Gacon test as the thing he refers to ‘suffer’. This particular test can make any player reach their breaking point, especially in a ‘relaxing’ period like pre-season.
The Gacon test is an endurance exercise which sees Pochettino demand his players to cover 150 meters in 45 seconds. After that, they are given a 15 second period to rest – before repeating another rep. The catch is that players are forced to run an extra 6.25 meters with each subsequent 45-second run. This continues for a long period, with Pochettino finding the 5000-meter mark as optimum.
Pochettino himself revealed this intense training tactic in a recent interview, saying: “To start with, the players have 45 seconds to cover 150 metres, with 15 seconds to rest. In each subsequent 45-second rep, they have to run 6.25 metres further, with the intensity steadily increasing.”
This test can be an especially harrowing one for Chelsea players, most of whom are going to train under Pochettino for the first time. The Chelsea squad really slacked off last season, which caused them to finish in 12th place. That is why the Argentine gaffer wants to make things right by making them get used to the Gacon test.
This particular test can be especially hard for certain players. Former Southampton striker Ricky Lambert once revealed that he had to ask Pochettino to tone down this routine during his time as the Saints’ manager. It ended up blowing up in his face.
Lambert said: “I went out [of the office] and went back to the lads made up, thinking, ‘yep, just done it for you boys, next Monday gonna be sorted’.
“So, I played the game [the next weekend], 90 minutes again, come in Monday, not only did we do 12, we did 24 runs – 24 runs and I just knew, I was running around laughing and almost crying and I knew what he was doing, he was breaking me and he did, he broke me.”
No Chelsea player will dare ask Pochettino to change this test, knowing the repercussions it brings. That means Nkunku needs to make sure he reports to pre-season training in prime shape or risk being absolutely rinsed out in his first few weeks at Chelsea.