Now a major name in world football, the rise of french born Bissau-Guinean Dayot Upamecano has recently seen him sign for one of the biggest clubs in world football – Bayern Munich. But before he signed for Bayern, Upamecano almost signed for Manchester United, at the age of 17.
Born in Évreux, France, the 22-year-old French football prodigy came to the limelight in 2013 in what can be regarded as a stellar season with French Ligue 2 side Valenciennes. His brilliant season did not go unnoticed, and a fierce battle to sign the defender ensued.
Top Premier League clubs like Arsenal, Manchester, Liverpool and German giants Bayern Munich came knocking for the then 17-year-old. But to the surprise of many, Upamecano opted to join Austrian Bundesliga giant RB Salzburg instead.
In an interview with The Athletic, Dayot revealed how close he was to joining Manchester United, at the tender age of seventeen.
“I was a young boy. I wanted to sign for them straight away…But then my parents took me aside and said: ‘Let’s think carefully about this’.”
The careful thought of his parents alongside the influence of then Salzburg sporting director Ralf Ragnick swayed him in the direction of the Austrian club, and the French defender grew into one of the finest defenders of the modern game. It was only half a season before Leipzig recognized his talent, and purchased him for €10 million in 2017.
Since moving to Salzburg’s sister club RB Leipzig, Upamecano’s incredible ball-playing ability has not only seen him rise at club level, but also for the French national team. Upamecano should be a guaranteed starter at this summer’s Euros, but given the wealth of talent that France and Didier Deschamps have at centre-back, that decision may not be so clear-cut. Regardless, Upamecano’s rise has been meteoric, and he will be an important player for both club and country for years to come.
MOVING TO BAYERN MUNICH
As everyone expected when Upamecano first joined RB Leipzig, on February 14th a deal was reached between the Frenchman and Bayern Munich. His immense talent and fantastic couple of years at the heart of Leipzig’s back-line inspired the Bavarians to secure his signature on a five-year-deal, and trigger his €42.5 million release clause.
With veteran duo David Alaba and Jerome Boateng set to leave the club, Upamecano will likely be Nagelsmann’s first choice defender at the club next season, regardless of the team’s formation. The player and manager have a fantastic understanding having worked together since 2019, and Nagelsmann knows how to get the best out of the 22-year-old’s undeniable quality on the ball.
WHAT WILL HE ADD TO BAYERN?
Known for his sublime passing and incredible strength, Dayot Upamecano is set to continue what is now becoming a dynasty of ball-playing centre backs at the Allianz Arena. But he’s far from just a ball-playing centre-back, with superb defensive awareness, commendable concentration and expert tackling skills. The Frenchman’s versatility also means that he can play as the libero at the heart of a back-three, or on either side of the sweeper. With all this in mind, it promises to be a fantastic five years at the Allianz Arena for the Frenchman, and we cannot wait to see what’s in store for his new adventure.