Manchester United are stepping back from the race for Dayot Upamecano.
The Athletic report United are no longer actively pursuing the French defender.
Our instant reaction here is that United are seeking to spin this, as pulling out from a race for a defender who may not be attainable.
Upamecano was linked to United by The Telegraph at the end of August.
A new contract penned by Upamecano this year contains a release clause active from next summer, for just £39.3 million.
The fee is an absolute bargain, and Leipzig’s chances of hanging onto the 22-year-old Frenchman are slim to none.
Europe’s top clubs will all be looking to snap Upamecano up, and unfortunately for United, this means heavy competition.
There is said to be serious interest from Bayern Munich, as there often is for the very best German based players.
The Athletic report Bayern lead the chase for Upamecano, and are considered favourites to sign him.
This is likely to be one key reason why United have stepped back. The club are simply choosing not to waste time in a pursuit of a player who will likely end up choosing to go elsewhere.
Even right now, United cannot plan with any guarantees to be offering Champions League football next season; unlike Bayern who can already feel assured of their status, such is their dominance in German football.
Did Champions League exit play a part?
Perhaps. If United had knocked RB Leipzig out of the Champions League, then Old Trafford may have seemed like a more attractive destination.
The group stage exit instead showed Solskjaer’s United up as also-rans on the big stage, a side not yet ready to challenge for Europe’s top prize. Three very good wins in the group were undone by three naive losses.
If Leipzig had been consigned to the Europa League, United may even have been able to approach the German side in January regarding an early transfer, and pay a little premium on top of the release clause.
Now for sporting reasons, Upamecano would not want to step down to Europe’s second tier competition.
Did his performance at Old Trafford scare United off?
You should never judge a player on one game, but let’s be honest here, Upamecano was not very good at Old Trafford.
A steady performance turned into a hapless disaster as a Marcus Rashford inspired United ran riot in a 5-0 win.
This may have caused United to pause, and look at other options. Or at least caused the club not to cling onto the small chance Bayern could be beaten to his signature next season, at the expense of other targets.
United may also be in no rush, wanting to see this season how Axel Tuanzebe continues to develop, and if Teden Mengi is able to make the jump.
We would fully assume United have put the feelers out by now, and if it appears Upamecano’s preference is Bayern, it is understandable the club step back.
Not only for a PR perspective of being ‘beaten’ to another player, it simply is not worth the time and effort which could be invested in signing other players who would jump at the chance to join the club.
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