This season, Dayot Upamecano has emerged as one of the most sought after talents in European football after establishing himself as a cornerstone of RB Leipzig’s defense at the age of 21. Upamecano began his professional football career as a youth player at home town club Evreux before moving to Valenciennes. From there, RB Salzburg signed him in 2015. It wasn’t long before the head of the Red Bull herd came calling. Upamecano immediately settled into the defense of RB Leipzig, and despite his age, he looked like a seasoned veteran. Upamecano has played a pivotal role in RB Leipzig’s rise to prominence since joining the club in 2017 and has established himself as an integral piece and important figure in Julian Nagelsmann’s intense high press setup this season. Despite only just turning 21, he has led the RB Leipzig back four as the rock of the team. He is renowned for his leadership and imposing physique at the heart of the defense. Leading sides in the Premier League, Bundesliga, and La Liga have taken notice of his potential.
Which clubs are chasing Upamecano?
Upamecano is one of the hottest prospects in Europe currently, and a host of top clubs are queuing up to see if they can persuade him this summer. The Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich are said to be interested in Upamecano as they see him as an excellent replacement for Jerome Boateng. If Bayern Munich is to get his services this summer, his arrival would have substantial implications for the structure of Bayern’s defense. Currently, David Alaba plays at center-back due to Niklas Sule’s injury, and a club that always wants to win trophies every season needs quality players to give the current players competition. Manchester United are also keen on a move to sign the highly-rated young Defender this summer. Man United missed out on the chance to sign the Defender for free under former boss Luis Van Gaal back in 2015, and the decision could come back to bite them, either way, this summer because they need to pay a massive sum of money to get him or miss out on him. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is interested in securing a defensive partner for 80 million pound Harry Maguire. Khalidou Koulibally was his first choice, but Solskjaer views Upamecano as similar to Koulibally and far more affordable and also represents the future in his long term rebuild plan at United. Although Victor Lindelof has partnered Maguire so far this season, Lindelof’s style of play is similar to Maguire, and Eric Bailly would appear to be a better fit alongside Maguire. However, Bailly’s injury problems mean that the team cannot depend on him. Pep Guardiola’s Man City are also in need of a defender this summer after failing to replace Vincent Kompany last summer. Guardiola’s refusal to bring in a defender last summer has cost him, and he will lose his Premier League crown to Liverpool this season if the Premier League is to resume. Most of the Man City faithful view Upamecano as the perfect replacement for Kompany and the idle partner for his compatriot Laporte. Arsenal is also desperate to sign a defender after manager Mikel Arteta made it clear he wanted an elite center-back in his ranks. However, Arsenal may find it hard to raise the necessary funds, especially as a result of the financial implications of the Covid-19 pandemic, which prompted the club to request that the playing and coaching staff take 12.5% pay cut. Arsenal’s lack of spending power might cost them in their transfer pursuit of Upamecano. The Catalan giants, Barcelona are also piecing together long term plans at the Camp Nou. Upamecano is on the radar of Barcelona as a potential replacement for the long-serving Gerard Pique and his compatriot Samuel Umtiti who is currently out of form due to injuries.
What next for Upamecano and RB Leipzig?
Upamecano is still under contract at RB Leipzig until the summer of 2021.
As he approaches the final 12 months of that agreement, his current club will likely open themselves up to offers rather than risk seeing his value deteriorate. Moving forward, Upamecano has the physical and technical profile to become an elite central defender. However, he must make the right decision when he does move from RB Leipzig. He should join a club with the right coach who understands the tactical profile that will get the best out of him. He is not a finished article yet and still has a lot to learn. Another option for him as a young defender is to sign a contract extension so that he can play a season or two for RB Leipzig, for him to develop well before moving.