RB Leipzig defender and soon-to-be Bayern Munich player Dayot Upamecano has explained why he rejected Manchester United at 17.
Upamecano, 22, has emerged as one of Europe’s leading centre-backs in Saxony, recently putting pen-to-paper on a lucrative deal with Bayern Munich.
His rapid rise to prominence has not gone unnoticed at international level either, with Didier Deschamps handing the talented defender three caps to date.
And while the next important juncture in his career will be to link up with current manager Julian Nagelsmann in Bavaria, his trajectory could have been entirely different during his teenage years.
Upamecano was generating serious noise as a talented tyro in the Valenciennes academy, which prompted Man Utd to enquire about his services, but the Frenchman opted against joining the 13-time Premier League champions, instead heeding the careful advice of Ralf Rangnick.
He told The Athletic: “I was a young boy. I wanted to sign for them straight away.
“Manchester United! But then my parents took me aside and said: ‘Let’s think carefully about this’.”
Instead Upamecano shunned glitz and glamour of Premier League football and joined Austrian outfit Liefering, a feeder club of Red Bull Salzburg and RB Leipzig, two clubs whom Rangnick was sporting director of during the Frenchman’s nascent career.
“We thought about it for a long time and then decided that going ‘etape par etape’ (step by step) was the best option for me,” Upamecano added.
“Everything Ralf said came true.”
What can Bayern expect of Upamecano?
With Bayern Munich already confirming that Jerome Boateng will depart at the end of the season, Bavaria-bound Nagelsmann will not have to worry about alleviating the gaping void set to left by the German, as Upamecano shares similar qualities.
A marriage of aggressive tackling and ball-playing competence underpins Upamecano’s game to a T and certainly fits the Bayern archetype. This season, the Frenchman currently ranks fourth for possessions won in the defensive third (133) and completed passes (1859) in the Bundesliga.
That combination of superb ball-winning and slick distribution has been exactly what Boateng has brought to the table for a decade at the Allianz Arena.
The pressure will be monumental for 33-year-old Nagelsmann next term, where domestic dominance is par for the course, but the arrival of Upamecano, whom he knows exceptionally well, should help ease the transition.