Loïs Openda’s Ridiculous Attacking Numbers Are Taking RB Leipzig to the Champions League

It has been nothing short of a meteoric rise for Belgian forward Loïs Openda. At 24 years of age, Openda has enjoyed a stellar debut campaign in the Bundesliga and the UEFA Champions League, and with 24 goals thus far, only Serhou Guirassy (25), Kylian Mbappé (26) and Harry Kane (35) are ahead of him in the race for the European Golden Boot.


Born in Liège, Belgium to a Moroccan mother and a Congolese father, Openda left his hometown in 2015, spending five years at Club Brugge’s academy before heading out on loan to Vitesse Arnhem. Having started off as a winger, Openda would reap the rewards from making the move to the center forward position and racked up 10 goals and 5 assists in 33 Eredivisie appearances in his first loan spell before following that up with 18 goals and 2 assists at Vitesse, and it wasn’t long before his performances attracted the attention of Europe’s major clubs.



He made the move to France in July 2022, replacing Arnaud Kalimuendo in Lens’ attack and joining the Ligue 1 side on a five-year deal. Openda would emerge as a vital cog in Franck Haise’s attack, registering 21 goals and leading Les Sang et Or to a second-place finish. He wasn’t able to stick around for Lens’ first Champions League campaign in two decades — instead, he joined RB Leipzig for a club-record €43 million.


Despite losing key players like Joško Gvardiol, Dominik Szoboszlai, Konrad Laimer and joint-Bundesliga top scorer Christopher Nkunku, RB Leipzig have enjoyed a solid, if unspectacular campaign, kicking off the season with a 3-0 win vs. Bayern Munich in the DFL-Supercup before falling to Wolfsburg in the second round of the cup and failing to come away with their third straight DFB-Pokal. They finished second in their Champions League group behind Manchester City and were narrowly eliminated by Real Madrid in the Round of 16.


Leipzig will be playing in Europe’s premier competition for the sixth year in a row, with Marco Rose’s side currently sitting five points above Borussia Dortmund, 17 above Eintracht Frankfurt, and two behind Stuttgart, and one player who has proven essential is Openda. The Belgian striker registered four goals in eight Champions League appearances, but he’s done even better in the Bundesliga with 24 goals and 7 assists in 31 appearances.


He has reached double figures in every single season since departing Belgium, and one primary factor in his rapid development in European football is Openda’s unmatched pace and determination to chase down opponents and opportunities to often create goals out of nothing.



It is his lightning speed that gives him a significant advantage over most defenders, standing at 5”9’, his low centre of gravity makes it hard for defenders to contest once he finds his stride in transition, Bundesliga defences have been the receiving end of his great runs on several occasions this term, a good example being his goal in Leipzig’s 2-3 loss to Leverkusen on Matchday 18 where he took advantage of an unsettled Leverkusen backline in transition following a corner kick.


Openda’s speedy runs are evidenced by the stats as well, he features in the Bundesliga top five for top speed, clocking an unbelievable 36.1km/h this season. These stats put him ahead as the quickest Leipzig player, which is very impressive considering all the young and agile talents at the club. 


How Is He Deployed at Leipzig?


The 24-year-old’s movement in both central and wide areas is impressive with Marco Rose’s 4-2-2-2 system, Openda uses his pace to stretch defences by moving wider and away from central areas so that he can help in creating overloads in wide areas to develop an attacking move. Openda’s physical abilities make him a good fit for an environment such as the Bundesliga. However, what’s equally remarkable is his execution in attack. 



Crucially, Openda has been helped in attack by the irrepressible Benjamin Šeško. The Slovenian has the most goals per shot figure (0.27) in the Bundesliga this season has this incisive and clinical nature of the strike paring has boosted Leipzig immeasurably this campaign. 


This season, Openda has the second highest xG in the league with 21.6 and a non-penalty xG of 19.8 compared to Harry Kane’s 29.9 xG, a figure which has been helped by four penalties. And despite not scoring the most goals per game, the Belgian averages more shots on target per 90 than any other forward in the Bundesliga this season (2.14). 


Openda has scored 15 goals with his right foot, five with his left, and four with his head. The Belgian is exceptional not only in his determination to capitalise on his speed but also in testing Bundesliga goalkeepers with his ability to create shooting actions for himself. Only Kane has attempted more shots overall (136) than Openda (111). 



A key factor to consider when comparing Kane with Openda is the difference in dynamics in the final third. An example of this is Openda’s 2.66 progressive carries compared to Kane’s 1.1 and conversely, Kane’s 3.29 progressive passes against Openda’s 1.59. 


More than a Goalscorer


There’s much more to Openda than just his scoring skills, he has six assists and has shown absolute strength of real creative ability in finding his teammates in open play, such a perfect assist was Emil Forsberg’s last goal for Leipzig on match day 15 in a 3-1 win over Hoffenheim. Only Kane has more goal involvement overall than Openda’s 29, showing how good he has been in his first season in the Bundesliga. 


The likes of Timo Werner, Yusuf Poulsen as well as Christopher Nkunku were all renowned for their efforts in counter pressing scenarios which made them crucial to Leipzig’s success under Julian Nagelsmann and Domenico Tedesco, and Openda’s style is perfectly tailored for a Red Bull tactical philosophy that is predicated upon intense pressing. He puts in a shift off the ball and is always determined to help his team win possession back.


Photo: @RedwardsTactics


He has won 57% of his duels as a striker, committing the second-most fouls (33) amongst his Leipzig players – only Xaver Schlager has amassed more. The Belgian has also received plenty of challenges, drawing 51 fouls from his opponents, and giving his side many useful set-piece opportunities, the threat he brings on and off the ball means the only way to stop him is to foul him. To evidence this, Openda is among the 91st percentile in Europe’s top five leagues for fouls drawn per 90 (2.02). 


After bouncing around from the Netherlands to France to Germany, Loïs Openda will be looking to find stability and success at RB Leipzig and hone his skills for Marco Rose’s side, where he is currently contracted through 2028. He has continued to demonstrate why he belongs in the conversation as one of the brightest up-and-coming strikers in football, and he looks set to play a key role for Belgium in this summer’s Euros. At 24 years of age, Openda could very well be the heir to Romelu Lukaku’s throne and cement himself as the attacking talisman for Domenico Tedesco’s side.


By: Muhammed L. Sillah / @LsillahOfficial

Featured Image: @GabFoligno / Sylvain Lefevre / Getty Images

Edited by Louis Young @FrontPostPod