RB Leipzig centre-back Dayot Upamecano has emerged as a rumoured target for Barcelona, with the Catalan giants reportedly willing to spend as much as €100m on the youngster.
Upamecano has since also revealed that he would consider Barcelona, Real Madrid and Manchester United as ‘dream’ clubs to join, furthering speculation that he could be set for a high profile move in the not too distant future.
With that in mind, here’s a look at eight things to know about this rapidly rising talent…
8. Leipzig Is Not His First Red Bull Club
Upamecano joined RB Leipzig in January 2017, but he was already at Red Bull Salzburg in Austria and had been since signing from Valencienne’s youth team 18 months earlier in 2015 for a reported €2.2m fee.
Given his potential, that he went to Germany for just €10m proved to be good business.
7. He’s Been Playing Senior Football Since 16
Upon arriving in Austria, Upamecano was sent to Salzburg’s feeder club, Liefering.
He made his senior bow in the Austrian second tier in July 2015 – three months before his 17th birthday – and would go on to play 16 times for the team over the course of the 2015/16 campaign.
During his time with Liefering, Upamecano also turned out for Salzburg in the UEFA Youth League. That same season he was even named on the bench for two Austrian Bundesliga clashes with Austria Vienna that and went on to feature twice in other league games.
6. The Big Boys Were Interested From the Start
Back when Upamecano was still playing youth football at Valenciennes in 2015 in his native France, it was reported by French publication L’Equipe that Manchester United had offered him a contract to move to Old Trafford.
Manchester City and Marseille were both also said to be keeping tabs on him around that time.
Ultimately, however, he felt that first team action would be more immediately accessible at Salzburg and chose to go there instead.
5. He’s Still Just a Teenager
Upamecano has been in the headlines for three years already and yet he’s still just a teenager and will continue to be so until he celebrates his 20th birthday in October, six months away.
Despite that, the France Under-21 international has played in 24* of Leipzig’s 29 Bundesliga games this season, starting 22 of them. He also played five times in the Champions League group stage and has been heavily involved in the Europa League knockout rounds.
4. He Has a Mega Release Clause
The €100m (£87m) figure being thrown around is the reported release clause that Upamecano has in his current contract with Leipzig, a deal which runs until the summer of 2021.
Depending on Leipzig’s determination to keep hold of him, as well as Upamecano’s ambitions himself, it may be that any suitor has to trigger that clause in order to prise him away.
As things stands, moving for that price would make him the most expensive defender of all-time, surpassing Virgil van Dijk’s £75m move to Liverpool in January.
3. He Is Very Quick
Pace is a major attribute of Upamecano’s, while he is versatile and technically able enough to also perform in a defensive midfield position as well as his typical centre-back role.
He did precisely that on occasion in Salzburg, which will make him even more appealing to coaches who increasinlgly like every member of their team to be comfortable in possession.
2. He Is Close Friends With Ousmane Dembele
Upamencano is only marginally younger than €145m Barcelona winger Ousmane Dembele and the pair grew up playing together in the Normandy town of Evreux.
Speaking in February 2017 shortly after arriving in Germany, the defender described Dembele as a ‘wonderful friend and footballer’ and explained that they were in regular contact and paying each other visits now they were back in the same country.
Whether that closeness works in Barcelona’s favour to reunite Upamecano with his friend at Camp Nou is certainly something to keep an eye on in the coming months.
He is also friends with Naby Keita at Leipzig, also a former colleague at Salzburg and one of few in the squad who could communicate with Upamecano in French when he arrived. That may be of interest to Liverpool fans, given Keita’s pre-planned arrival at Anfield this summer.
1. He Remains Incredibly Humble
Upamecano has not been affected by his rapid rise to an elite level at such a young age. Instead, he remains humble and incredibly grateful for the opportunities he has had so far.
That attitude should ensure he continues on this path to stardom.
“I am very grateful and glad that I made it this far and know that all this is not self-evident. After all, I know many of my friends and companions who just have not got into professional football and really wanted it,” the player said in an interview with Sportbuzzer.
*figure accurate on date on publication