RB Leipzig center-back first appeared on the radar of the Bundesliga champions back in 2015, and the 22-year-old will now join them at the end of the season.
It ended like all the love stories about Valentine’s Day. After years of ‘will it or not’ and lengthy searches, they finally came together at the end and became official on 14 February.
After chasing their man for half a decade and watching him flourish with another partner, Bayern Munich wiped Dayot Upamecano off their feet after promising him a beautiful future together.
There was no shortage of suitors, but Bayern always become the hero in these stories, teaming up with someone whose heart is set.
The Bundesliga champions first became interested in the coveted central defender back in July 2015, intercepting a defender at the airport when he was due to leave France and fly to Austria.
The then 16-year-old had just become a European champion with France under 17 and was preparing for the U19 Valenciennes team when he was approached by Red Bull Salzburg and invited Upamecan and his family to visit the club’s training grounds.
Before taking off from Paris, an agent arrived on the scene intending to change his mind and get him to bypass Munich to see what Bayern has to offer before making a decision about his future.
“It was surprising that he showed up,” Upamecana adviser Thierry Martinez said The team.
After a brief discussion, Bayern’s offer was rejected and the teenager traveled further to Austria, negotiating a contract to enter Salzburg just 2 days later with 2.2 million euros (1.9 million pounds / 2.7 million dollars).
“We were confident in our decision,” Martinez insisted. “We were looking for a project with a solid foundation. How much talent goes to big clubs and doesn’t play? It’s important to start well in a new club.”
That decision, however, did not come easily, Bayern was not the only team eager to attract the Upamecans. Manchester United were also delighted and Upamecano could have moved to England had there not been some logistical disagreements.
“The mediator met with us, but between the project she presented to us and what will actually happen. An apartment was promised, but that changed into a host family with only six return trips for his parents, ”Martinez told SoFoot.
“When you eradicate a player at such a young age, that is not enough. I wanted Dayot to have a stable emotional balance off the field. “
Arsenal, Marseille and Rennes were also impatient, but Salzburg’s attention to detail captured Upamecano and his entourage with a PowerPoint presentation showing a clear career path as well as how the club will nurture him on and off the field, taking care of his accommodation and educational needs as well as his football.
That career path initially brought him to feeder club Liefering, where he played 16 times in the Austrian 2 league before joining the Salzburg first team, giving him a taste of top football as well as a chance to prove himself in the Europa League.
As with many Salzburg graduates, the next step in the standings was the move to RB Leipzig, where Upamecano rose as one of the best young defenders in European football under Ralph Hasenhuttl and Julian Nagelsmann.
As his contract expired, Leipzig could tie him up for another year at the end of last season by inserting a realistic release clause in his extension, which should take effect in the summer of 2021.
It was this € 42.5 million (£ 37 million / $ 51 million) clause that Bayern activated to finally get the fairytale ending they wanted, but once again, they had to drop the long list of fans and win it over.
Arsenal held talks in 2020, but the move never materialized and the Gunners did not return in January as they should wait until the end of this season before resuming rebuilding.
The move to Barcelona was altered in the Spanish media, but any move to Camp Nou was impossible due to the club’s financial situation, which is why they are struggling to afford a minimum fee for defender Eric Garcia.
Liverpool turned to their Bundesliga defender Ozan Kabak to resolve their cross-position, initially signing center-back Schalke on loan to cover their lengthy injury list. The Reds were considering a move for Upamecano, but he was never a serious target as both he and Virgil van Dijk are left-backs and the Dutch international should be back in action next season.
On the other hand, Chelsea’s interest has been very serious, but Bayern’s win could prove to be an opportunity for the Blues, as Thomas Tuchel’s team is also considering both Niklas Sule and David Alaba in search of a center-back.
Suleu is not a guaranteed starter under Hansi Flick thanks to veteran form Jerome Boateng, while Alaba will leave in the summer with a free transfer after rejecting a new contract with Champions League holders.
Alabin’s upcoming exit hastened Bayern’s move to Upamecano, and the Bavarians have learned from their first failed attempt and put forward their own career plan to convince him to choose them over Chelsea and others.
“We had very good, intense and professional conversations with Dayot and his agent Volker Strut over many months,” said sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic. Picture.
“We knew we had very fierce competition. A young player, 22 years old, whose qualities are already remarkably developed, was remembered.
“I was always convinced that we came up with a good concept. We presented him with our vision of his career at Bayern. Over the past week in Doha, I spoke to everyone involved again. At the end of a long process, the player, his family and management were convinced that Bayern is a real partner. “
Struth visited Bayern’s offices in January, even confirming that Chelsea and Liverpool had contacted him because of the defender, but after months of discussions, everyone was convinced that Bayern was the right partner.
Just in time to announce Valentine’s Day.