Dayot Upamecano: Assessing the Candidates to Sign RB Leipzig’s Star Man & Where He Should Go

?Global pandemics or not, transfer talk in the halted world of football must go on!

And one man who’s got everybody talking – and seemingly every club in Europe interested – in recent times is Dayot Upamecano; Leipzig’s physically imposing centre-half who’s gone from strength to strength under the stewardship of Julian Nagelsmann. 

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The France Under-21 international combines a unique composure in possession along with an impressive defensive skill set, and while there are facets to his game which need to be worked on – specifically his positioning – there’s little doubting Upamecano is one of Europe’s brightest defensive talents. He’s the modern-day centre-half.

And after he refused to extend his current deal – which expires at the end of next season – Europe’s elite were put on red alert, with transfer rumours surrounding Upamecano’s future being published at a canter.

So, here are the five main contenders to sign the French centre-back this summer, rated on their likelihood and suitability.


Bayern Munich

Dayot Upamecano,Thomas Mueller

Kicker reported back in February that Bayern wanted to bolster their defence with Upamecano following the Frenchman’s imperious display at the Allianz Arena in Leipzig’s stalemate with Die Roten.

The 21-year-old finished with a combined six tackles and interceptions along with a game-high eight clearances.

Upamecano’s ability to play both vertical, penetrating passes along the ground along with lofted passes in behind the opposition’s backline means he could play a similar role to David Alaba since the Austrian was forced to switch to centre-half.

Bayern’s centre-backs have often been left vulnerable to the counter due to the attack-minded nature of their full-backs, especially Alphonso Davies, but Upamecano’s impressive recovery speed and composure in one-v-one situations mean this will be less of an issue should they acquire the Leipzig man. 

Overall, Die Roten would be wise to add a defender used to the frantic intensity of the Bundesliga.

Likelihood Rating: 6/10

Suitability Rating: 8/10


Real Madrid

Raphael Varane,Zinedine Zidane

Zinedine Zidane is believed to have made Upamecano his summer priority as he looks towards the Bizarro World without Sergio Ramos.

In Raphael Varane, Real have one of the world’s most dominant defenders, while Nacho Fernandez had proven to be a stout and versatile back-up option.

The mightily talented Eder Militao, meanwhile, has yet to prove himself to his French boss, with Zidane reportedly ‘unconvinced’ by his summer signing – hence the interest in Upamecano.

Zidane’s conservative and pragmatic style has helped Los Blancos towards the best defensive record in La Liga this term – conceding just 19 times in 27 games – but with Upamecano known for his proactiveness and the risks he takes in possession, you question how much of a stylistic fit the Leipzig man is for Real.

Likelihood Rating: 6/10

Suitability Rating: 4/10


Arsenal

Mikel Arteta

Twitter would suggest that Gooners go to sleep replaying ‘Dayot Upamecano | Welcome to Arsenal 2020 | Best Defensive Skills & Tackles’ in their heads. They seem to have their hearts set on signing the 21-year-old. 

But while the Frenchman would be an ideal fit for the system Mikel Arteta is trying to implement at the Emirates, it’s hard to envisage Upamecano swapping an exciting project at the Red Bull Arena for the red side of north London.

You could also question whether the Gunners would be able to finance a deal for Upamecano – who’d likely cost £55m – after they smashed their transfer record for £72m Nicolas Pepe last summer and overall, a cheaper alternative is likely to be drafted in this summer.

Likelihood Rating: 3/10

Suitability Rating: 8/10


Barcelona

Gerard Pique,Samuel Umtiti

With Gerard Pique not getting any younger and the future of Samuel Umtiti up in the air, Barcelona reportedly named Upamecano as their ‘ultimate’ transfer target back in January.

The performances of Clement Lenglet have gone under the radar this season and although the former Sevilla man has his moments, he’s proven to be a very good option for Quique Setien at the heart of Barca’s defence for the foreseeable future. 

Nevertheless, Upamecano would be an ideal fit for Setien’s Juego de Posición philosophy which requires his centre-halves to be adept in the first phase, in ball circulation and playing vertical passes through the lines.

The Frenchman ticks all of those boxes, while his knack of driving out of defence like a freight train to create overloads further up the pitch would also be beneficial.

It’s just a shame, though, that La Blaugrana will have to fork out £55m to secure their Pique replacement when Jean-Clair Todibo was waiting in the rafters all generational and that.

Likelihood Rating: 7/10

Suitability Rating: 9/10


Manchester City

Josep Guardiola,Aymeric Laporte

The Citizens’ defensive woes are well-known and it’s a sure bet Pep Guardiola will be looking to bolster his ranks with the addition of at least two defenders in the next transfer window.

And Upamecano should be someone they prioritise, he’d complement star centre-back Aymeric Laporte wonderfully well. 

The Frenchman’s comfort in possession would lift the weight off Laporte in the build-up phase and sides will be forced to focus their attention on both of City’s centre-halves as opposed to just Laporte – who’s so key in breaking through defensive lines and supplying City’s front five. 

He’s also proven to be a tactically versatile footballer under Nagelsmann, so it’d be interesting to see how Guardiola would utilise the 21-year-old. He often encourages rotations between midfielders and full-backs to create space for Laporte, for example.

Upamecano would be a cheaper alternative to Kalidou Koulibaly or Milan Skriniar and under Guardiola’s tutelage, the Leipzig man could develop into a true Vincent Kompany replacement.

Likelihood Rating: 5/10

Suitability Rating: 8/10


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