United weigh up £50m ask­ing price for de­fender Upame­cano

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport Football -

Manch­ester United are con­sid­er­ing a move for cen­tre-back Dayot Upame­cano, who im­pressed in RB Leipzig’s run to the Cham­pi­ons League semi-fi­nals.

Ole Gun­nar Sol­sk­jaer, the

United man­ager, would like to pair him with Harry Maguire in the mid­dle of the de­fence next sea­son, but oth­ers within the club are wary of spend­ing up to £50 mil­lion on a 21-year-old.

when, not if, he moved and time was on his side. That thought process re­mained when both he and the club re­sisted an at­tempt by Manch­ester United to sign him in Jan­uary.

“In the last 1½ years at Ajax he has be­come a stronger player,” said San­der Zelden­rijk, edi­tor of Ajax Life, the of­fi­cial mag­a­zine of the Ajax Fan As­so­ci­a­tion. “He is quicker in his first me­tres of a sprint. He also im­proved in de­fend­ing when he played be­hind Hakim Ziyech [who has since left for Chelsea]. But in the end, I think he is a real No10.

“At­tack­ing, con­di­tion­ally strong, tac­ti­cally clever, has a good eye for the as­sist and is a good fin­isher. Will he fit in [at United]? Good play­ers al­ways fit in. But it de­pends on how his new club wants to let him play.

“This [trans­fer] is not a shock. Nei­ther for the club or the fans. Ev­ery­body knows some play­ers have reached the point of ‘the next fi­nan­cial step’ to­wards a more com­pet­i­tive league. Donny has played in the first team for five sea­sons and ba­si­cally this route fits in Ajax’s phi­los­o­phy.”

Van de Beek has been at Ajax since he was 11 and was viewed as the nat­u­ral suc­ces­sor to Davy Klaassen, who left for Ever­ton in 2017 and is now at Werder Bre­men.

He al­ready has some his­tory with United, hav­ing been among the sub­sti­tutes when Ajax lost the Europa League fi­nal against them in 2017. But it was the fol­low­ing year that he re­ally es­tab­lished him­self as one of the best young at­tack­ing mid­field­ers in Europe.

He is the sort of player United need – busy, in­tel­li­gent and de­ci­sive in and around the area, with a fond­ness for late runs into the box. He scored eight goals from mid­field in a cur­tailed Dutch cam­paign last term.

Ajax will miss him – Zelden­rijk points out that it was only af­ter he was sub­sti­tuted in the Cham­pi­ons League semi-fi­nal sec­ond leg in May last year that Spurs were able to plun­der their last-minute win­ner – but United should rel­ish his pres­ence. They have signed a ver­sa­tile player as well as a tal­ented one, and at a bar­gain price. Ajax dropped the ask­ing price by £10million to re­flect the re­al­ity of a post-Covid-19 trans­fer mar­ket.

Prag­matic as ever, they knew it was time for an­other of their grad­u­ates to move on. United will hope his best years are ahead of him.

Mane

Firmino

His dis­plays in Hol­land al­beit in a less de­mand­ing league - also com­pare well to United’s other mid­field op­tions.

Van de Beek Pogba Fred

Shots

Goals

As­sists

Posses­sion won in fi­nal third

Tack­les won

Matic

Fer­nan­des 7.4 7.1 6.9 7.6

McTom­i­nay 9.1 10.1

Donny van de Beek will of­fer United at­tack­ing and cre­ative thrust from mid­field. He av­er­aged al­most eight touches of the ball in the op­po­si­tion box in the Ere­di­vsie last sea­son only five play­ers, all strik­ers, man­aged more in the Premier League last sea­son. 3 8 8.5 3.3 9.2 10 10.2 12

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