The race is over before it even began, as Bayern Munich have confirmed the signing of Dayot Upamecano from RB Leipzig on a five-year deal.
The French defender was widely expected to leave the club in the upcoming summer, after signing a new contract last summer that included a release clause of €42.5m.
Premier League sides Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool were all reportedly all ready to compete for his signature, but the reigning Bundesliga champions have moved early and swiftly to wrap up a deal mid-season and he will join on a contract that runs until 2026.
Bayern have made a habit of snapping up the best talent in the Bundesliga in order to maintain their dominance over the league, winning each of the last eight league titles and currently sitting top of the league once again four points clear having played a game less than everyone else.
Having previously signed the likes of Manuel Neuer, Leon Goretzka, Nicklas Sule, Joshua Kimmich, Serge Gnabry and Robert Lewandowski from other Bundesliga sides, it’s little wonder that clubs are unable to mount a challenge against their dominance domestically.
Upamecano is one of the most highly rated young centre-backs in Europe right now and his signing will be seen as a coup, as not only does it weaken a rival but it greatly strengthens a position in need of bolstering in their own squad.
Jerome Boateng won’t be offered a new contract at the end of the season and will leave on a free transfer, while David Alaba has decided not to accept the new deal he was offered and looks likely to be heading to the Bernabeu on a free transfer as Real Madrid look to strengthen their squad.
Upamecano has shown a great defensive nous, while also showing a fantastic ability to pass out from the back and recover against counter attack with great pace. He has proven to be a bit rash in challenges on occasion, something Manchester United scouts in particular reportedly had concerns over.
But that hasn’t stopped Bayern making the deal official in the middle of the season and they will be confident that with their dominant style of football and with the player’s familiarity with the club and league that he will be able to fit in seamlessly.
A great deal that will now see the race for any other central defenders that become available in the summer market hot up, while Bayern Munich can move on to strengthening other positions knowing they have sewn this one up nice and early.