Bayern Munich have met with representatives of RB Leipzig centre-back Dayot Upamecano, who is considered one of the top young defenders in Germany and is expected to be available for a fixed price of €42m when a release clause in his contract becomes active this coming summer.
Upamecano has been with Leipzig since January 2017 when he made the switch from partner club Red Bull Salzburg and now, at the age of 22, appears ready to take the next step in his career.
Bayern previously signed Joshua Kimmich from Leipzig back in 2015 and have long had a reputation for poaching the best Bundesliga talent from rival domestic clubs - whether it be from Borussia Dortmund, Schalke, Werder Bremen, Hoffenheim or others.
Moving to Bavaria therefore wouldn’t be unexpected for Upamecano, although a number of clubs abroad have been linked as well, including Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea.
Bild has written of a ‘secret’ meeting with two of Upamecano’s advisers, Sascha Breese and Volker Struth, at Bayern’s Sabener Strasse base in the week. Their car is said to have parked in the underground garage and they went up to speak with sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic.
Breese and Struth work for the same agency that represents current Bayern defender Niklas Sule, but Bild is adamant the meeting was about Upamecano and negotiations began.
Bild may have called the meeting ‘secret’, but Salihamidzic has since confirmed to Sky Sport Deutschland that it took place, telling the network: “Of course we are thinking about [Upamecano]. We had a good meeting with his agents yesterday. Let’s see what happens.”
Bayern chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge had already publicly spoken of the club’s interest in the developing player earlier this month.
“We will of course deal with it, not only with this player, but in principle with all the positions where we want and need to do something. He's still a Leipzig player at least until the end of the season. But it is common knowledge that he has a clause in his contract,” Rummenigge explained.
But acknowledgement that talks with Upamecano’s camp have now started is a big step forward.
Bayern will be in the market for a centre-back as David Alaba nears the end of his contract and seeks a new challenge after more than 10 years in Bavaria. That new challenge is widely expected to be with Real Madrid, who may themselves soon bid farewell to captain Sergio Ramos.
Manchester United are targeting a centre-back in 2021 as they look for a long-term partner for Harry Maguire and could rival any approach Upamecano, although interest was thought to have started cooling when Bayern became a serious contender for the Frenchman’s signature. They are also very interested in Villarreal’s Pau Torres and prefer a left-footed player, which Upamecano is not.
Liverpool’s centre-back problems have been well established 2020/21 as a result of long-term injuries to both Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez. The Reds have been keeping an eye on Schalke’s Ozan Kabak, but Upamecano has been reported to be top of their ‘wanted list’ in recent months.
Liverpool may end up forced into the market for a centre-back in January because their options in defence are stretched ever more thin, but their priority has always been on the long-term and any addition before the transfer deadline is likely to be a quick fix – like USA international Aaron Long.
Chelsea have also been linked with Upamecano for over a year. Thiago Silva was signed as a free agent last summer but the veteran Brazilian can only be considered a short-term solution. The Blues have also now hired Thomas Tuchel as manager and his knowledge of German football at least has the potential to influence the recruitment strategy in west London.