The Bundesliga is home to the brightest young talents in world football. Rapidly developing into one of the world’s finest defenders, this colossus of a centre-back continues to wow RB Leipzig fans, with his spectacular improvement and powerful performances belying a player of such a tender age. bundesliga.com takes an in-depth look at Dayot Upamecano …
Club: RB Leipzig
Country: France (2 U21 caps)
Standing at 6'1” Upamecano packs plenty of muscle into his sturdy frame. Developing his footballing skills alongside the likes of former Borussia Dortmund and current Barcelona schemer Ousmane Dembele on the footballing courts of Évreux in northern France, the powerful centre-back was soon snapped up by Valenciennes FC before Red Bull Salzburg made their move for the 16-year-old. Upamecano has featured in over 30 games for France, from youth teams up to and including U21 level, while he was a key member of the France U17 side that went all the way to UEFA European Championship glory in 2015, featuring in all six games at the finals in Bulgaria. At Leipzig since January 2017, the 19-year-old has already clocked up 53 games in all competitions for the club, scoring three goals. He amassed a total of 2,265 Bundesliga minutes last term as he established himself as first-choice centre-back alongside club captain Willi Orban.
Watch: Upamecano's first ever senior goal! (from 0:11)
Plays a bit like: Mats Hummels
Despite being a no-nonsense tackler when the moment requires it, Upamecano really shines when it comes to in-game defensive intelligence, much like Bayern Munich and Germany supremo Hummels. Both are shrewd readers of closing down space, can be intricate and precise when wining back possession and their redistribution of the ball is a marvellous asset to their respective sides. Upamecano already boasts speed in excess of Hummels' and is showing signs he, just like his more seasoned counterpart, has an eye for goal with the Frenchman netting three times for Leipzig and likely to improve on that tally in the campaign ahead.
Did you know?
Upamecano’s very first appearance for Leipzig came away at Dortmund in the Bundesliga on 4 February 2017. The defender - previously known as a shy and retiring type - played for 24 minutes with his back to the awe-inspiring Yellow Wall inside the Westfalonstadion. “I was so excited because there were so many fans; I had never played in front of so many people,” the defender said of that unforgettable experience.
What they're saying
"Dayot understands German very well as he has been playing in German-speaking countries since 2015. You can see that we have become more solid at the back - (he and I) now have good harmony." - Leipzig defender Willi Orban
"He loves defending (and) getting the ball off opponents. He’s still young and has room for improvement but he has a great attitude and a lot of determination." - France youth coach Jean-Claude Giuntini
"He is now the best centre-back. He is a top player, fast, clever good in a duel; it's just very hard to get past him." - Leipzig forward Yussuf Poulsen