Tag Archives: Dayot Upamecano

Champions League last 16 predictions – RB Leipzig vs Liverpool

The Champions League is back and the last 16 has thrown up some really exciting ties to determine who will make it into the quarter-finals.

Among them are English champions Liverpool, who are currently going through a shocking run of form, who take on Bundesliga side RB Leipzig who came through a group of death in the group stages and currently sit in second place domestically.

The Reds are going through their worst run of form in the last three years and have now lost three league games in a row for the first time since November 2014, while the Bundesliga side have won each of their last four games.

A big factor of this tie will be the fact that neither side will benefit from home advantage at any point. Due to COVID-19 regulations, the first leg (Leipzig’s home leg) will be held in Budapest at the Puskas Arena while the second leg (Liverpool’s home leg) will be held in a neutral venue also – although it’s undecided where yet.

Being behind closed doors was already a big factor for both sides, with both clubs’ atmosphere key to their successes in previous years. Obviously this year has been different since the start, with no fans at all anyway, but in Europe it could make all the difference.

Liverpool v Manchester City - Premier League : News Photo

Liverpool’s style of play would usually be the exact remedy to getting a result against Leipzig, with their capabilities to both counter at speed and also control possession and sustain attacks among the best in Europe. Leipzig have shown an ability to deal with top teams with their own system, with Nagelsman able to be tactically flexible with several systems under his belt.

It’s an intriguing tie moreso because of the way both sides are playing right now. On paper, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who didn’t see Liverpool progressing with relative ease when the draw was made initially.

The pace of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane up front with the playmaking abilities of Thiago Alcantara and Roberto Firmino would have made them a scary prospect on the counter attack, and they still are. But recent games have shown a true lack of killer instinct in the final third and has seen them struggle to convert chances against opposition they’d normally dispatch of.

Leipzig’s star defender Dayot Upamecano has just been announced as a Bayern Munich player for next season, which will likely have some sort of effect on the build up for the game.

RB Leipzig v Bayer 04 Leverkusen - Bundesliga : News Photo

Now however, Leipzig will take encouragement from the situation of both teams and will believe they can damage the Reds both home and away. A one-legged tie may have suited the Germans even more with their versatility in games, but as it stands I think Liverpool will still have too much for them over two games.

While they’ve lacked a cutting edge going forward, Liverpool are still showing enough in their build up to convince me that they will create chances and at some point those chances will turn to goals once again.

Jordan Henderson’s role in central defence could be a big problem for them defensively, but if Fabinho can get back to fitness and partner Ozan Kabak or Ben Davies, that would allow Henderson to move back into midfield and do what he does best. He is the leader of the team in more ways than just wearing the armband and his presence is needed back in the centre of the pitch.

While I think there will be goals in both directions in this time, overall I think Liverpool’s added quality will shade them the win and they’ll progress into the quarter-finals.

PREDICTION:

RB Leipzig 1-1 Liverpool
Liverpool 2-1 RB Leipzig
(Liverpool progress 3-2 on aggregate)

Bayern Munich confirm signing of Dayot Upamecano

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.

Manchester United must prioritise a centre back this summer

As we move past the half way point of the current Premier League campaign, discussion among the Manchester United fanbase has shifted to how United can improve over the summer and kick on to the next level under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

With the COVID-19 pandemic still having an impact on the sporting world, there will most likely be a limited transfer budget once again. While there will always be talk of attack minded players joining a club of United’s stature and tradition, with the likes of Jadon Sancho and Erling Haaland being linked again recently, there is a more important position to fill at Old Trafford.

The Reds have scored 49 goals in the Premier League this season, the highest so far, which is impressive given the attacking talent and options that are available to the likes of Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp.

Edinson Cavani has proven to be a shrewd piece of business from United, with his energy and experience proving vital on and off the pitch, while also helping the the likes of Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood on the training ground.

However Solskjaer’s side have also let in 30 league goals this campaign, the most in the top nine. This has led to a few games where what should have been three points for United has become a point or even a defeat.

If United want to fulfil their ambitions of returning to the summit of the English game once again then these costly errors have to be cut out.

David De Gea has been in decline this season which has led to understandable calls that he should be left out for the time being, with Dean Henderson be given a chance between the sticks. It’s also worth noting that De Gea’s form may not be helped by how unstable and unreliable his defenders in front of him have been.

Manchester United v Leeds United - Pre-Season Friendly : News Photo

United have looked at their most solid at the back when Eric Bailly has partnered Harry Maguire in central defence, but the Ivorian cannot be relied upon due to his injury prone record and his combative style has only exacerbated that issue.

Victor Lindelof has remained unconvincing when called upon and should be considered a squad player rather than first choice at the club, while Maguire has had a poor campaign so far as questions mounted not only of his quality but his leadership skills as well.

The defence this season has been caught napping on many occasions and have been far too reactive instead of anticipating the danger and snuffing it out. Whether it’s opposition attackers being played onside or failing to compete for that 50/50 in the air, it’s clear to see that United are in need of reinforcements in that area.

Last summer they were linked with RB Leipzig’s Dayot Upamecano, who at only 22-years-old is emerging as one of the most talented defenders in Europe. He would be an ideal acquisition as his playmaking sensibilities from the back and decent passing accuracy suit United’s style of play.

Upamecano also has the ability read the game well and recover on the counter and protect the space in behind when playing in a high line. With his release clause down to just €42m this summer after signing a contract extension, United may not get a better opportunity to add the Frenchman to their ranks.

RB Leipzig v FC Schalke 04 - Bundesliga : News Photo

Sergio Ramos should be another name United consider for a more experienced hand, with the Real Madrid captain’s contract running out at the end of this season.

Ramos has been linked with a move to Old Trafford in the past, mainly in 2015 when Louis van Gaal was in charge. It is thought that Ramos used The Reds’ interest in him to leverage a better contract with Real Madrid so it would be understandable if United are reluctant to be led down the garden path again.

If Ramos genuinely does want a different challenge, then it’s an opportunity United can’t afford to waste. To be able to call upon a proven winner and a player that knows how to win ugly doesn’t come around often and could prove invaluable in passing on some of that knowledge and experience in the same way Cavani has done for the likes of Rashford, Martial and Greenwood.

Solskjaer has been in the job for over two years now and while doubts still remain about his overall suitability to the job, the club has made genuine progress this season. Most United fans would have taken a Champions League spot a few months ago, so few would have expected to have been in the conversation about winning the league.

In recent weeks United’s achilles heel at the back has led to them falling away from the likes of Manchester City at the top of the table, meaning that a title win this season may one step too far.

Should they address this issue in the summer then there can be no doubts that United will be up there once again.

Who Should Liverpool Sign At Centre Back in January Following Joe Gomez Injury?

Another pointless international break, another avoidable injury.

This time it’s Liverpool who are the unlucky side, after it was revealed that defender Joe Gomez is likely to be sidelined with a knee injury suffered in training with the England squad.

While the amount of time he’ll miss is unknown as it stands, England boss Gareth Southgate revealed that the defender was in ‘a great amount of pain’ and that ‘nobody was around him’ when the injury occured. The fear is that he may have re-injured the ACL that he damaged back in 2015 that saw him miss the best part of a year of action.

With Virgil Van Dijk already ruled out for the rest of the season after tearing his ACL against Everton, Joel Matip with plenty of his own fitness issues and stand-in centre back Fabinho already injured too Gomez’s injury was the last thing Liverpool needed during this break.

Nathaniel Phillips and Rhys Williams have both filled in alongside Gomez in recent weeks but together as a pairing Liverpool will struggle to defend their title. This surely makes it likely that they will dip into the transfer market in January for a new defender, especially if the 23 year old’s injury turns out to be serious.

So what options do they have in January? Who is a defender of the necessary calibre that they could try to bring in?

The obvious candidate is Dayot Upamecano. The RB Leipzig defender was linked with a move away from the Bundesliga side in the summer, with Manchester United’s interest reportedly very strong. A move never materialised after he put pen-to-paper on a one-year extension but is expected to make the move away next summer when his €45m release clause kicks in.

Liverpool could use their excellent relationship with the club following their signing of Naby Keita to their favour, by paying more than release clause to get him in early ahead of the inevitable summer competition.

Another option could be Bayern Munich defender David Alaba. The Austrian international is out of contract at the end of the season and the German side revealed recently that talks over a new deal have been halted for now.

A move for Alaba wouldn’t be cheap despite that, with the player reportedly demanding large wages hence the failure to agree a new deal with the European champions. If Liverpool could agree personal terms then Alaba would arguably be the best option, as his versatility would also strengthen the squad across several areas even once their current injured options return.

Sevilla FC v C.A. Osasuna - La Liga Santander : News Photo

Bayern Munich have briefed that they don’t want to sell the player in January but if he agrees a move elsewhere, which he can by FIFA rules, an offer of cash could tempt them to part ways early rather than lose him for free at the end of the campaign.

A left-field option could be young Frenchman Jules Kounde of Sevilla. His partnership with Diego Carlos was a huge factor in the Spanish side lifting the Europa League last season and he has continued his good form into this season. Sevilla currently sit in mid-table but his individual performances have been excellent.

He has a release clause of £82.5m, with Manchester City showing interest in the summer and Sevilla showing a willingness to do business at around the £60m mark. That is on the high side but at just 22 years old, he would be a long-term investment for the club.

A cheaper option could be Schalke’s Ozan Kabak, who the club have reportedly been tracking for a while now. With a fee of £20m put on his head, Liverpool could look to bring him in as a cheaper alternative who still has implications for the future of the club at just 20 years old.

The Turkish international is very strong in the air, good positionally and willing to put his body on the line to block the ball but his weaknesses are generally on the ball. These may become exacerbated at Liverpool, who tend to dominate possession in most games they play.

At just 20 years old, there is plenty of room for improvement and coaching to mould the player but he’s also got more than enough top flight experience to help out with their immediate problems.

Whoever the Reds decide to bring in, if anyone, will have huge boots to fill and the expectation would be that they hit the ground running for Liverpool to be able to push on and continue challenging for honours.

How Manchester United Could Sign Dayot Upamecano Despite New Contract

Manchester United have made France defender Dayot Upamecano their priority for a new defensive signing according to several reports across Europe.

Upamecano has shone for RB Leipzig over the last two seasons, with his ability on the ball as impressive as his physical traits for such a young man. He has attracted interest from all the big clubs, but it was believed that he had put an end to speculation over his future for this summer when he signed a new contract.

Despite the new deal, Manchester United are reportedly prioritising his signature for this window and want to open talks with Leipzig about a potential transfer.

The move resembles that of the one Liverpool put together for Naby Keita back in 2017. After the Guinea midfielder signed a new deal with a release clause, Liverpool tried to open negotiations about a move. While Leipzig initially completely refused to talk, in the end they relented. Liverpool agreed to pay more than the not-yet-active release clause and postpone the contract start date by a year, meaning Leipzig kept the player as initially planned and made extra money on the player.

Something similar may be needed to convince them to part with their biggest asset at a time where he has just committed to the club for extra years.

According to reports, Upamecano’s new contract contains a release clause of €42.5million but doesn’t become active until the summer of 2021. As of right now, there is no set amount of money that the club would be forced to accept. They are well aware however that next year the player will be snapped up, and quickly, for that amount. If they can generate a bidding war that potentially exceeds that amount by some way, they may go for it.

United would likely need to offer around €50million to even get Leipzig talking to them and if other clubs became involved in the process they’d have a decision to make on whether or not they are willing to go higher. As far as Leipzig are concerned, Upamecano is not for sale unless they’re presented with an offer they cannot refuse.

That means there is no working number out there, at least publicly anyway, that the Red Devils can negotiate down from and work their way towards an agreement with. They need to go in blind and strong.

Upamecano is a top talent and prospective world-class centre-back, but right now he is far from the complete article. He’s rash in the tackle, has concentration lapses and sometimes gets carried away with his ball-playing abilities and takes unnecessary risks. Putting him alongside Harry Maguire would see the club building for the future whilst also improving their current line.

It would represent a shrewd business move and after the signing of Donny Van de Beek was concluded relatively quickly, if they could follow that up with this signing it could potentially represent an upturn in fortunes for the club in the transfer market going forward.

Dayot Upamecano Signs New RB Leipzig Deal

Dayot Upamecano has signed a new three-year contract with RB Leipzig, putting an end to speculation over an immediate move to Arsenal this summer.

The French defender, 21, was linked with a move to the Emirates this summer after another season of good form in the Bundesliga with his release clause seen as a more than fair price at this moment for his ability.

With Bayern Munich deciding not to move for him this summer, Arsenal were the clear favourites and the player was reportedly open to the move too. But RB Leipzig were keen to keep hold of him after losing Timo Werner to Chelsea and have managed to convince the player to renew. The player had just one year left to run on his previous deal with a release clause of £54.1million.

The new contract will be seen as a huge blow to Arsenal, who are keen to bolster their defensive line further this summer to go along with the return of William Saliba from his loan at St-Etienne.

Arsenal Unveil New Signing William Saliba : News Photo

With other big clubs circling for the player’s signature, this would have been the best time for Arsenal to swoop with much less competition due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Upamecano is a fantastic young talent, with his ability on the ball among his more strong attributes. While he is physically imposing and strong in the air, he has a habit of rushing into challenges and often leaving space behind him as he comes into midfield with the ball. With the right coaching, it’s believed across the game that he could become one of the best defenders in the world.

At Leipzig, he is a mainstay in the starting line-up and already in a system that covers for his deficiencies. Under Julian Naglesmann he is working under one of the better coaches in Europe, who will help to iron out the flaws in his game and help him polish his game before the inevitable big move comes.

It’s unknown whether there is a release clause in the new contract, but logic would dictate that if there is it would be significantly higher than his previous one while the terms of his deal would almost certainly have been improved also.

Arsenal, Manchester United and Bayern Munich will all need to look elsewhere if they want to bolster their defence this summer but the option of Upamecano becoming available again from next summer is very real and would be a great option for all if he sharpens up the edges of his game.