RB Leipzig defender Dayot Upamecano was one of the names on many people’s lips this season when you’d ask which centre-back should Manchester United sign in the summer.
However, he’s off to Bayern Munich this summer.
But the French centre-back says he was extremely close to joining United as a teenager, but ended up turning down a move in favour of an Austrian second division side in a quest to climb the football ladder.
Upamecano, 22, has impressed in the Champions League in recent years, doing enough to earn a move to Bayern at the end of the season.
The reality of the situation is, our defence could look very different had we signed Upamecano back when he was a teen.
The approach from United is said to have come in 2015 but he was instead persuaded by former RB Salzburg and RB Leipzig sporting director Ralf Rangnick to join feeder club Liefering to play senior football.
Speaking to the Athletic, Upamecano lifted the lid on turning down United.
“I was a young boy. I wanted to sign for them straight away. Manchester United!
“But then my parents took me aside and said: ‘Let’s think carefully about this’. We thought about it for a long time and then decided that going ‘etape par etape’ (step by step) was the best option for me.
“Everything Ralf said came true.”
Rather interestingly, though, United’s former head of youth recruitment, Derek Langley, denies these claims. He told the MEN in 2019 that United turned down the chance to sign both Upamecano and Juventus defender Matthijs de Light.
So, which is it? Sigh.