His name has become a staple of the gossip column in recent weeks and months with Dayot Upamecano believed to be on the radar of several elite level clubs across Europe. Indeed, the 22-year-old is seen as the game’s next great centre back with RB Leipzig seemingly braced to lose the Frenchman at the end of the season.
Dean Jones reported exclusively that Mauricio Pochettino wants Upamecano at PSG as he looks to reshape his squad at the Parc des Princes, but competition for the defender’s signature will be stiff. There’s no doubting Upamecano’s ability, but which club would be the best fit for the player with the world at his feet in 2021?
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We’ve seen this story play out before. As one of the best players in the Bundesliga at this moment in time, Upamecano has naturally been linked with a move to Bayern Munich. The Bavarians have made an industry of hoovering up the best talent from their domestic rivals over the years - see Mario Gotze, Mats Hummels, Leon Goretzka, Manuel Neuer, Serge Gnabry and of course Robert Lewandowski among others.
Bayern Munich could need a whole new central defensive unit this summer, with David Alaba and Jerome Boateng both out of contract at the end of the season. Upamecano could form the bedrock of the Bavarians’ starting lineup for seasons to come, plus he already knows the Bundesliga well. This is the move that makes the most obvious sense.
David Alaba (FC Bayern) steht vor einem Abschied aus München
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Chelsea spent big over the last summer window, with over £200m spent on no fewer than seven new signings. Thiago Silva arrived from PSG as the club’s new leader in defence, but there is still a sense the Blues could do with another top level centre back to play alongside the Brazilian veteran.
This led to recent reports Chelsea have joined the pursuit of Upamecano, as per the Daily Mail. There’s no doubting the Frenchman would strengthen Frank Lampard’s defence, but the Blues boss is already struggling to get the best out of the superstars he signed last summer. This might not enthuse Upamecano much that Lampard is the coach to take him to the next level.
Much has been made of Liverpool’s defensive woes this season, with injuries to Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip hitting the Reds hard. This has led to suggestions that the Premier League champions could enter the market for a new centre back, with Upamecano shortlisted by many as a potential target.
The signing of Upamecano would be a statement of intent by Liverpool. Alongside van Dijk, there would be no centre pairing as formidable in the Premier League, but there would be questions over the Frenchman’s ability to play at a slower pace, like Jurgen Klopp’s side often do. He is used to a much higher intensity at RB Leipzig and would have to adapt his game.
Upamecano was linked with a move to Manchester City for much of the summer window until Ruben Dias pitched up at the Etihad Stadium from Benfica. Now, Pep Guardiola appears to have found a reliable centre back pairing in Dias and John Stones with Aymeric Laporte and Nathan Ake providing considerable depth.
Not so long ago, Upamecano looked like the ultimate Guardiola centre back. The Frenchman is comfortable on the ball and is adept at bringing possession out from the back, but Guardiola now appears to have settled on a centre back pairing. A door might have closed here for Upamecano.
Rúben Dias und John Stones von Manchester City
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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have made great progress over the last 12 months, but they remain vulnerable at the back. Indeed, if Manchester United are to spend big on a player that isn’t Jadon Sancho this summer it could well be Upamecano, who has been continually linked with a switch to Old Trafford.
Whether as a partner for Eric Bailly, Harry Maguire or Victor Lindelof, Upamecano would very quickly become United’s predominant centre back. He would give them the sort of presence at the back they have lacked since the days of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic. Upamecano’s signing could mark a similar moment in United’s development under Solskjaer to that of van Dijk’s arrival at Liverpool. He could be one of the final pieces of the puzzle.
As Jones reports in his Inside Football column, Pochettino would like Upamecano to make the move to the Parc des Princes as the former Spurs boss reshapes his PSG squad. The French champions are also monitoring Sergio Ramos who has yet to sign a contract extension beyond the summer at Real Madrid.
PSG failed to replace Silva in the summer and so there is certainly a vacant place in their squad for a dominant centre back like Upamecano. As a coach, Pochettino is renowned for placing an emphasis on a strong defence and the Frenchman would help him build that at his new club.
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