If it’s reportedly true that Bayern had to spend £37m (42.5m euros) in activating 22-year-old Dayot Upamecano’s release clause to sign the French international defender, then Bayern have got one of the bargains of the season.
Bayern announced over the weekend that Upamecano would be joining the Bavarian giants from 1st July 2021, ending the defender’s seven year apprenticeship with the Red Bull franchise.
That was some apprenticeship, seeing Upamecano making a debut for his country in September 2020, and last season helping RB Leipzig reach the Champions League semi-final for the first time in the club’s history.
Upamecano was a part of the highly efficient Red Bull system from the very beginning of his senior career. The defender went from Austrian League Two side FC Liefering, a feeder club to FC Red Bull Salzburg, to Salzburg, and then after two years with Die Roten Bullen of Austria moved on to the club it feeds up to, the Red Bulls of Germany – RB Leipzig.
In five of the ten seasons RB Leipzig have existed Upamecano has helped the Red Bulls go from Bundesliga Division 1 to third in the Bundesliga proper and reach the semi-finals of the Champions League in only their third attempt.
Reaction to the transfer:
Bayern Munich board member for sport Hasan Salihamidžić said of the signing: “We’re convinced that Dayot will be a very important member of our team in the coming years.”
Leipzig sporting director Markus Krösche said of the deal: “Dayot’s become a cornerstone of the team. He’s developed into an exceptional defender, and is a top guy. It’s a shame for Leipzig that he’s leaving, but expected.”
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What are Bayern getting
Pace and power. Upamecano has been in the press for almost two years linked with every major club in Europe after consistently showing the athletic prowess that makes him such a good defender.
Bundesliga has calculated Upamecano as the fastest centre-back in the league this year with a top speed of 22 mph – faster than some national speed limits.
What does it mean for existing players at Bayern?
Bayern have four centre backs – David Alaba and Jerome Boateng (first choice) with Lucas Hernandez and Niklas Sule in reserve.
Alaba’s contract expires at the end of the season and it seems the Austrian wants a new challenge. Boeteng is 32 and as each season passes needs more and more time to recover.
Hernandez and Sule were seen as part of Bayern’s defensive future and whilst Hernandez has kept up form, Niklas Sule, signed from Hoffenheim at the same age Upamecano joins Bayern, has made some critical errors of late that culminated in the defender being dropped in matchday 16.
Recently Flick was coy on Sule’s future saying the player is contracted till the end of next season and both parties will see how it goes.
Analysis: An absolute bargain
Bayern have lived up to the reputation of German efficiency stealing a march on their rivals and capturing one of the best young defenders in the world at a time when the market for centre-backs is sky high.
Considering Man Utd paid £80m for Harry Maguire and Liverpool £75m for Virgil Van Dijk, Bayern getting Upamecano, a tried and tested Champions League performing defender, for under £40m seems almost unfair.
The question is if it was merely the process of activating a release clause why were no other clubs doing it? Real Madrid are entering the process of replacing club legend Sergio Ramos, Juventus’ Giorgio Chiellini must surely becoming to the end of his extensive career at some point, whilst Barcelona can always do with a decent defender.
In the Premier League, Man Utd, even with the addition of Maguire, still need to shore up their defence. Liverpool lost Van Dijk for the season and £40m to bring in another world class defender as both cover and a future partner doesn’t seem a bad move. Tottenham and Arsenal could also both do with refreshed defensive lines.