United weigh up £50m asking price for defender Upamecano
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.
His displays in Holland albeit in a less demanding league - also compare well to United’s other midfield options.
Van de Beek Pogba Fred
Possession won in final third
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