Had Tottenham Hotspur been more aggressive in 2015, they could well have avoided their current defensive struggles as the north London outfit came close to signing Dayot Upamecano, who currently stars for both Bayern Munich and France…
Did Spurs nearly sign Dayot Upamecano?
According to The Athletic, Spurs scouts had raved about the then 16-year-old talent as they searched for a natural successor and a centre-back of a similar profile to former colossus Toby Alderweireld.
After impressing at the U17 European Championship, the fresh-faced Upamecano was deemed a perfect fit for Mauricio Pochettino’s project and quite a cheap signing, with only a £300k fee expected in compensation.
In the end, Lilywhites supremo Daniel Levy wouldn’t match the fee or wages that RB Salzburg offered, and even despite other interest from teams like Manchester City, he swapped Valenciennes for Austria before joining sister club RB Leipzig a year later.
Did Spurs make a mistake by not signing Upamecano?
How good is Dayot Upamecano?
The 24-year-old impressed at the rising Bundesliga giants to the extent that perennial champions Bayern Munich paid his €42.5m (£38m) release clause with no hesitation in February 2021 ahead of the summer window.
His continued rise on the pitch for club and country has since seen Upamecano’s worth increase to a whopping €80m (£70m), as per CIES Football Observatory, meaning Spurs have certainly missed out on a top-quality player and given their current woes defensively, it’s one they must now rue.
The Lilywhites have conceded the most goals of any team inside the top ten, even Chelsea, who bottom out in that range. Meanwhile, during the week, mistakes in the backline cost them against lower league opposition in the FA Cup fifth round once again.
Had a player like Upamecano been in the ranks, then it could have been a very different result.
The 12-time international is among the best in the world right now, as seen by comparing his strongest attributes with his positional peers across Europe, where he ranks amongst the top 1% for passes attempted and progressive passes and the top 4% for tackles per 90, via FBref.
Upamecano is also likened to current Spurs star Cristian Romero by the same statistical website, and considering the Argentine is a cut above Antonio Conte‘s other options, this is certainly a positive.
Some of his performances for the Bavarians over recent seasons has seen the French titan lauded as a “beast” by talent scout Jacek Kulig, as well as “formidable” by BT Sport pundit Rio Ferdinand (via the Daily Mail).
Given just how poor Spurs have been at the back under the Italian, you can’t help but imagine what could have been had Levy and co pursued Upamecano with more aggression back in 2015.
AND in other news, £90k-p/w star with 13 passes “had a stinker” vs Sheffield United…