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If Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich are to beat RB Leipzig at the Allianz Arena on Saturday, they will have to beat a player who could well be in the line for them next season.
Dayot Upamecano has emerged as one of Europe’s most sought-after defenders after a series of dominating displays in the German top flight and the Champions League.
With the Bayern center-back pair of David Alaba and Jerome Boateng expected to leave at the end of the season, Hansi Flick has been tipped heavily to pay for the € 42 million release clause on Upamecano’s contract to carry him. to Bavaria.
Ahead of what many are billing as the 22-year-old’s audition over the weekend, we used Opta’s data to see if Upamecano would be an upgrade for Bayern’s seasoned central defenders.
He just started
– RB Leipzig English (@RBLeipzig_EN) August 27, 2020
The story so far
Despite the supposed interest of Manchester United, Manchester City and Arsenal at the time, Upamecano opted for Salzburg in 2015 and soon had a taste for first-team football at Liefering.
Given the links between the clubs, it came as no surprise when the center-back chose Leipzig in January 2017, quickly adjusting to a new country and league with 12 Bundesliga appearances for the remainder of the campaign.
Upamecano’s exhibitions next year saw him nominated for the 2018 Golden Boy award, won by then-Ajax defender Matthijs de Ligt, but his game has since gone up another notch under the guidance of Julian Nagelsmann.
He has been a mainstay behind, making 38 appearances in all competitions in the 2019-20 campaign.
Solid as a rock
Upamecano helped Leipzig finish third in the Bundesliga and reach the semi-finals of the Champions League last season.
He has started the 2020-21 campaign with a spring in his wake and has particularly impressive defensive numbers compared to Alaba and Boateng.
In his eight Bundesliga games, Upamecano has won 90 percent of his tackles, and only Bayer Leverkusen’s Edmond Tapsoba enjoys a better success rate (92 percent) among those with at least 10 attempts. Alaba and Boateng are far behind in that department, with success rates of 50 and 57 percent respectively.
Upamecano plays significantly more duels than his Bayern counterparts, averaging 7.7 per 90 minutes against Alaba’s 4.9 and Boateng’s 5.7.
He’s also won 65 percent of his aerial battles this season, more than 50 percent from Alaba and 61 percent from Boateng, and he’s only been dribbled by an opponent once all season.
With such impressive numbers, it’s no wonder Upamecano conceded just 0.7 goals per game this season, while Alaba and Boateng have let in 1.8 and 1.5 respectively every 90 minutes.
Dayot Upamecano last night:
100% challenge success rate
99 touches (most joints)
92% pass accuracy
5 clearances (most joints)
3 shots completed (plus joint)
On another level
– RB Leipzig English (@RBLeipzig_EN) August 14, 2020
Contributing to the other extreme
It is not only in defense that Upamecano excels.
He has wonderful passing skills and consistently starts attacks from his side. This season he has started eight sequences that ended in one shot and was involved in 32 in total, both figures surpass the Bayern pair.
Alaba and Boateng average 75 passes every 90 minutes, while forward-thinking Upamecano surpasses 89 in the same period.
He’s also more accurate when he hits the long ball, successfully completing 75 percent of those passes compared to 54 percent for Alaba and 58 percent for Boateng.
Robert Lewandowski will be licking his lips at the prospect of reaching the end of some of those passes if Bayern close a deal for one of Europe’s most impressive young defenders.