While Manchester United are continuously one step behind in the transfer market, smart clubs like RB Leipzig are always one step ahead.
Take United’s ‘pursuit’ of Dayot Upamecano for instance. The Telegraph reported at the end of August that the Frenchman was a top defensive target for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
A potential deal has not materialised, even though The Athletic reported this week that Upamecano is top of United’s wishlist.
United are stuck, because of a failure to offload unwanted defensive players like Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, and Marcos Rojo.
Backwards thinking from the board tying these playing to high contracts has left the club in a tough position, needing to sell to buy.
Upamecano is likely to leave Leipzig next summer however, with a release clause in his contract standing at around £40 million. The problem for United is, that there will be competition from clubs across Europe queuing up to pay it.
Leipzig are prepared
Leipzig this week agreed a deal with Dinamo Zagreb to sign Croatian defender Josip Gvardiol, newspaper Sportske reported.
He will follow winger Dani Olmo to the club, who joined Leipzig in January.
While the deal is yet to be made official, Leipzig are considering loaning Gvardiol back to Zagreb for the season.
With an extra year in Croatia under his belt, he will be ready to challenge to replace Upamecano in the XI.
If a big bid came in from United for Upamecano before the deadline, Leipzig may consider fast-tracking him.
They also have another gifted young Frenchman, Ibrahima Konate who can replace Upamecano if needed, once he returns to fitness after a hip injury.
But first, United need to find a buyer for the unwanted defenders on our books, and currently that looks very tough.
He’s worth paying up for
While United centre-back Victor Lindelof looked laboured and out of sorts on his return to action at the weekend, Upamecano had no such trouble in the Bundesliga.
Upamecano played all 90 minutes in a 3-1 victory over Mainz at the weekend.
He had the highest number of touches of any player on the pitch with 131, and made the joint highest number of tackles (4).
Upamecano also blocked one shot, and finished the game with a pass completion rate of 93 per cent.
Despite Leipzig’s run to the Champions League semi-finals, there was no tiredness, fatigue, or under-preparation on his part.
United face an uphill task to sign Upamecano before deadline day. It will take an offer upwards of £60 million to tempt Leipzig into selling now.
But if United do get into a position to make that bid, it can’t hurt that Leipzig already have a replacement waiting in the wings, whether it be immediately or next summer.
It would be nice if United were as forward planning as Leipzig. If we were, he could have been signed already.
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