Summary

  • Upamecano made Leipzig debut in friendly win over Rangers.
  • A winter transfer window signing from Salzburg.
  • Hasenhüttl: "Dayot is very promising".

Dayot Upamecano has wasted no time at all settling into life at his new club RB Leipzig.

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The rising star signed for the newly promoted side only last week, but has already featured for the team, and looks set to become the latest name to emerge from the unknown at the surprise Bundesliga title contenders.

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Leipzig have enjoyed a memorable start to life in the Bundesliga, ending 2016 second in the table thanks in large part to a sensational run of eight consecutive wins between late September and early December. It is, therefore, no surprise that they were an attractive proposition for Upamecano when he left FC Salzburg.

"I thought long and hard about what would be the best move for my career and had a number of discussions with people at the club," said the teenager, who becomes the eighth player to make the Salzburg-Leipzig switch. "That's how I'm sure this was the right decision for me."

Upamecano signed a four-and-a-half-year deal with the Bundesliga newcomers in January.

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So what made Upamecano such a good prospect? "The overall package with Dayot is very promising," said his new coach, Ralph Hasenhüttl, who handed the 18-year-old his Leipzig debut in the 4-0 win over Rangers FC in Sunday's friendly.

With Upamecano player boasting a bold, aggressive style, an assuredness that belies his young years, and an acute positional awareness and sense of anticipation, it is easy to see why Hasenhüttl is excited.

Add to that the ability and self-belief to dribble his way out of trouble or launch an attack with a precise pass, and comparisons with fellow Frenchman Raphael Varane of Real Madrid CF or FC Bayern München's Mats Hummels are flattering but not unjustified.

The Frenchman made his Leipzig debut in a winter friendly win over Rangers FC.

"Dayot is one of the greatest talents in his age class," says Leipzig sporting director Ralf Rangnick, who has signed the youngster to a contract that runs through to 2021. "He brings so many strengths that we can have faith in him. He's come to Leipzig to develop step-by-step."

Given his career trajectory so far, 'leap-by-leap' may have been the more appropriate expression.

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Born in Normandy, Upamecano first came to prominence further north at Valenciennes FC, though it was his performances as France's U-17 side won the 2015 UEFA European championship that propelled him to the top of scouts' 'ones to watch' lists. 

Salzburg won the race to sign him, and after a spell on loan at second-tier Austrian side FC Liefering, Upamecano returned to his parent club during the 2015/16, winning the league before earning a first-team place this term.

Now, that process begins again at a higher level for the central defender, but Hasenhüttl is optimistic he can make the great leap forward: "He has every opportunity to provide us the qualities we need."

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