Liverpool may need to make a January move for a centre-back after Virgil van Dijk's serious knee injury. 

The Premier League champions were dealt a huge blow with Van Dijk set to miss most - if not the remainder - of the season after a tackle from goalkeeper Jordan Pickford in the Merseyside derby draw against Everton. 

Liverpool have been left with just two senior centre-backs – Joe Gomez and Joel Matip – with Van Dijk's injury, although defensive midfielder Fabinho can also provide cover. 

Unsurprisingly, there have been transfer rumours in the aftermath, with the Reds linked with RB Leipzig defender Dayot Upamecano and Brighton and Hove Albion centre-back Ben White. 

Having joined Leipzig from Salzburg for a reported €10million in 2017, Upamecano re-signed earlier this year, but he apparently has a €42m release clause in his contract – although that can only be triggered at season's end. 

Upamecano is highly rated in Europe and, using Opta data, we assess how his performances compare to Liverpool's defenders.

Bright future awaits, but would Upamecano improve Liverpool?

Upamecano, 21, helped RB Leipzig finish third in the Bundesliga and reach the Champions League semi-finals last season.

The France international's tackling numbers were particularly impressive when compared to Liverpool defenders Van Dijk, Gomez and Matip.

In the Bundesliga last season, Upamecano had 1.95 tackles per 90 minutes – with Matip (1.66 per 90 in just nine Premier League games) the closest of Liverpool's trio. However, only Van Dijk (52.2) had a worse tackle success rate than Upamecano (58.8), with Gomez and Matip both above 69.

In the Champions League, Upamecano had 3.4 tackles per 90 minutes , well above Van Dijk (1.08) and Gomez (1.59), and also at a better rate (56) than the Liverpool trio. Matip, often injured in 2019-20, played just 90 minutes in total in Europe's top club competition last season.

Ready to do battle

Upamecano contested the most duels (87) of the four in the Champions League, and went at a success rate of 71.26, similar to Van Dijk (70 duels and 74.29 success rate), while he also had a comparable number of headed clearances per 90 minutes (2.04 to Van Dijk's 2.28) and interceptions (1.63 to 1.08). Gomez had 2.64 interceptions per 90 minutes in the Champions League last season.

Van Dijk's absence will also hurt Liverpool aerially, with the Dutchman an imposing figure in Jurgen Klopp's back four.

Upamecano, who stands at 186cm, was between Van Dijk and Gomez when it came to aerial duels last season. He won 18 of 27 aerials in the 2019-20 Champions League, a rate worse than Van Dijk (33 of 47) but better than Gomez (24 of 41).

It was a similar story in the respective leagues, although he contested fewer than Liverpool defenders. An area Upamecano fell short in, at least domestically, was in being dribbled past by an opponent, which happened 20 times in 28 Bundesliga games, a figure ranking him below both Van Dijk (seven times in 38) and Gomez (11 in 28), but ahead of Matip (seven in nine). 

Boosting Liverpool's build-up play

A problem set to be exacerbated by Alisson's injury absence, Van Dijk's passing ability in defence is also important to how Liverpool function.

In this area, Upamecano may offer the Reds the most. In the Champions League last season, his passing accuracy in the opposition half was 83.1 – higher than the Liverpool trio, including Van Dijk (82.7). When it came to passing accuracy ending in the final third, Upamecano again topped the list (74.1), ahead of Gomez (71.6), and that included averaging 11.7 passes into the final third per 90 minutes.

In domestic action, Upamecano also topped the list in these categories, and his passing accuracy in the opposition half to begin this Bundesliga season is 84.7, while Van Dijk, Gomez and Matip have all dropped off from last season in this area.

Jamie Carragher says Liverpool need to do whatever it takes to sign RB Leipzig defender Dayot Upamecano in January after losing Virgil van Dijk to a serious knee injury. 

Netherlands international Van Dijk was forced off early in the Reds' 2-2 draw with Merseyside rivals Everton on Saturday after a wild challenge from Jordan Pickford.

Scans have since revealed Van Dijk suffered damage to his anterior cruciate ligament, an injury that will ensure he misses the majority – if not the entirety – of the remainder of the season.

Liverpool have previously been linked with 21-year-old France international Upamecano and Carragher – the Reds' second-highest appearance maker – says Jurgen Klopp needs to bring him in as a matter of urgency when the January transfer window opens. 

"Liverpool's next big signing had to be a centre-back anyway and I am talking next summer," Carragher told Sky Sports. 

"Dejan Lovren went and they didn't replace him so they only have three centre-backs and one of those, Joel Matip, is always injured. There are question marks now about Joe Gomez.

"So, there is no doubt that Liverpool had to go big in the transfer market next summer. That was the next one. That has now got to be brought forward to January 1, whoever the target was in the summer. Not the end of January. 

"There is a young man everyone was talking about at Leipzig, Dayot Upamecano. I think he is only 6'1" or 6'2", so he is maybe not that aerial but if he is the one they wanted then bring it forward. Pay extra money and do it on January 1.

"That means getting through 11 league games without Virgil van Dijk."

The 2020-21 season has only just started but Lionel Messi's future is dominating headlines once again.

Messi wanted to leave Barcelona, but he decided to remain at the embattled LaLiga giants.

Manchester City, who were reportedly tipped to lure Messi to England, are still dreaming of his arrival.

 

TOP STORY – CITY NOT GIVING UP ON MESSI

Manchester City are lining up a move for Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi at the end of the season, reports the Manchester Evening News.

Messi handed in a transfer request prior to the 2020-21 season getting underway and Premier League giants City were favourites to sign the six-time Ballon d'Or winner before he opted to stay.

Pep Guardiola and City, however, remain interested in Messi and will be in a position to land the Barca captain should the opportunity arise next year.

 

ROUND-UP

Manchester United have identified a list of potential defensive reinforcements that includes RB Leipzig centre-back Dayot Upamecano and Real Madrid defender Raphael Varane, according to The Athletic.

- Fabrizio Romano says goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen's new Barcelona contract until 2025 will be confirmed soon. The 28-year-old's current deal is due to expire in 2022.

- Le10sport claims Paris Saint-Germain are considering a loan move for Inter midfielder Christian Eriksen, who has struggled to establish himself since joining from Tottenham in January.

West Ham are prepared to double Declan Rice's wages to fend off interest from London rivals Chelsea, reports The Sun.

- Tuttosport says Serie A champions Juventus are hoping to rival Madrid for Rennes sensation Eduardo Camavinga next year. Madrid have identified teenage midfielder Camavinga as a prime target, but Juve feel that by loaning Daniele Rugani to Rennes, it will help build a relationship with the Ligue 1 side.

- Calciomercato reports Lazio and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic are facing a decisive season. The Serbia international has been previously linked to the likes of PSG, United, Inter, Juve and Madrid.

Dayot Upamecano is a player in demand.

The 21-year-old RB Leipzig defender and France international is wanted by some of Europe's biggest clubs.

Could he find himself playing for Liverpool or Manchester United?

 

TOP STORY – PREMIER LEAGUE GIANTS WANT UPAMECANO

Premier League champions Liverpool and rivals  Manchester United will go head-to-head to sign RB Leipzig centre-back Dayot Upamecano, according to Bild.

Upamecano was linked to the likes of Liverpool, United, Real Madrid , Paris Saint-Germain , Barcelona Arsenal and Bayern Munich before re-signing with Bundesliga side Leipzig in July.

However, Liverpool and United are expected to return at the end of the season as they look to bolster their defences.

 

ROUND-UP

- Marca claims Luka Modric is prepared to take a wage cut in order to extend his Madrid contract. The 35-year-old midfielder is set to become a free agent at season's end. He has previously been linked to Milan .

- United goalkeeper Sergio Romero wants to move to MLS , says the Daily Mail. Romero, who is behind David de Gea and Dean Henderson at Old Trafford, was reportedly close to joining Everton on loan before Monday's deadline.

- Calciomercato reports Milan are prepared to make another attempt to sign Lille midfielder Boubakary Soumare in January.

Atletico Madrid are weighing up a move for Valencia's Geoffrey Kondogbia following Thomas Partey's switch to Arsenal, according to Cadena Ser.

RB Leipzig have splashed out a reported €19million on Dinamo Zagreb defender Josko Gvardiol, perhaps preparing them for life without Dayot Upamecano.

Gvardiol, 18, was heavily linked with Leeds United and Lille but has signed a five-year contract with Leipzig, who he will not join up with until July 2021.

The Croatia Under-21 international has been touted as a replacement for reported Manchester United target Upamecano.

However, with Gvardiol remaining at Dinamo for the rest of 2020-21, it remains to be seen if Leipzig will part with Upamecano before the transfer window shuts on October 5.

"I am very happy to be able to take the step to RB Leipzig," Gvardiol said in a statement. "It is one of the top clubs in the Bundesliga and has a clear style of play.

"It was important for me to join a club that could enable me to take the next steps as a professional footballer and as a young player. That is exactly what RB Leipzig embodies.

"The club has proven time and again how well you can develop and improve here. I'm very grateful to Dinamo Zagreb for making this jump possible.

"Until my move to Leipzig, I will do everything I can to achieve the utmost success with Dinamo."

Leipzig sporting director Markus Krosche said: "With Joski Gvardiol we were able to sign of the greatest European defensive talents. As a left-footer, we will have even more variety with him in the squad.

"At the age of 18 he is of course still a young player, but his overall development – both physically and personally – is already very mature.

"Josko will be able to gain more experience and match practice in professional football in Zagreb over the next few months before he joins in 2021.

"We will then continuously build up and further develop Josko according to our philosophy."

Gvardiol, a former team-mate of Leipzig midfielder Dani Olmo at Dinamo, earned his senior debut in October 2019 and has made 16 appearances in all competitions for the Croatian champions.

Eduardo Camavinga is highly coveted following his exploits for Ligue 1 outfit Rennes.

The 17-year-old's stock has also risen after making his first France appearance.

Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain are reportedly vying for his signature.

 

TOP STORY – GIANTS GO HEAD-TO-HEAD FOR CAMAVINGA

Real Madrid face competition from Paris Saint-Germain to sign Rennes sensation Eduardo Camavinga, according to Marca.

Camavinga, who made his international debut for France on Tuesday, has been heavily linked with a move to LaLiga champions Madrid.

However, Ligue 1 holders PSG are reportedly determined to keep the 17-year-old in France.

The front page of Friday's AS Diario adds Camavinga, PSG star Kylian Mbappe and RB Leipzig defender Dayot Upamecano are being targeted by Madrid in 2021.

 

ROUND-UP

- TyC Sports claims Barcelona have made a new offer for Inter forward Lautaro Martinez. Repeatedly tipped to swap Inter for Barca, Martinez's agents are believed to be in Spain to discuss another bid.

Ronald Koeman has handed Barca a four-player shortlist, including Lyon's Memphis Depay, Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum, Inter defender Stefan de Vrij and Manchester City defender Eric Garcia, claims Marca.

- FootMercato reports Madrid are considering a move for City attacker Riyad Mahrez.

- Sky Sport says Inter are convinced they will sign Arturo Vidal from Barca. It comes as Cagliari and Rennes try to sign veteran Nerazzurri defender Diego Godin, while Inter reportedly close in on Parma full-back Matteo Darmian.

- Chelsea forward Olivier Giroud has agreed a provisional contract to join Juventus as the Serie A champions wait on Barca veteran Luis Suarez, claims Sky Sports Italia. Juve have also been linked with Roma's Edin Dzeko, Napoli forward Arkadiusz Milik and Alvaro Morata of Atletico Madrid. Andrea Pirlo's Juve have also eyed former forward Moise Kean but Everton are unwilling to do a loan deal, reports Gianluca Di Marzio.

- Fabrizio Romano reports Juve striker Gonzalo Higuain, meanwhile, is set to complete his move to David Beckham's Inter Miami in MLS.

Leicester City want to sign Saint-Etienne defender Wesley Fofana but former Foxes boss Claude Puel is reluctant to part with the centre-back, according to Le10 Sport.

Dayot Upamecano will not be leaving RB Leipzig this year, but head coach Julian Nagelsmann accepts the club may not be able to resist offers at the end of the season.

The 21-year-old has been linked with Manchester United, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Arsenal after an impressive 2019-20 campaign for Champions League semi-finalists Leipzig.

He recently admitted to talking to other clubs despite appearing to end speculation over his future by signing a new three-year deal with the Bundesliga side at the end of July.

And Nagelsmann concedes it may prove too difficult to keep hold of the highly rated centre-back - who scored for France on his second appearance on Tuesday - in next year's window.

"He will be here for the season. I'm sure about that," Nagelsmann told ESPN. "As for the future, I'm not sure as he is very talented.

"Lots of clubs will want to buy - perhaps next season it could be real that he leaves the club. But this season he will stay."

Leipzig sold their all-time top scorer Timo Werner to Chelsea in June and have seen an array of other first-team stars linked with the exit after last season's exploits.

However, Nagelsmann has no complaints about bigger teams pouncing for his players and says it is down to his club to continue developing more talent.

"It is normal when you work with young guys that clubs will try and find young talented guys in the transfer market," he said. 

"It is normal that bigger clubs will try and buy these players. You have to deal with that, you've got to be one step forward when you buy new players or find new players. 

"Our scouting should be good and we have made a lot of good decisions in the transfer market."

Leipzig finished third in the Bundesliga last season and begin their 2020-21 campaign with a home match against Mainz 05 on September 20.

France came from behind to defeat Croatia 4-2 in a replay of the 2018 World Cup final on Tuesday.

Didier Deschamps' side won by the same scoreline when the teams met in Moscow two years ago and they came out on top again in the Nations League Group A3 clash at the Stade de France.

A fine strike from Dejan Lovren put the visitors in front, but Antoine Griezmann struck and Dominik Livakovic scored an unfortunate own goal in the space of three first-half minutes to turn the game around.

Substitute Josip Brekalo restored parity after the restart, only for Dayot Upamecano's header and a penalty from Olivier Giroud to keep Les Bleus level with Portugal at the top of the group.

France head coach Didier Deschamps said he is unwilling to take risks with Kylian Mbappe as the world champions look ahead to their Nations League clash against Croatia.

Mbappe scored the winning goal but hurt his ankle in France's unconvincing 1-0 victory over Sweden in their Nations League Group A3 opener on Saturday.

The Paris Saint-Germain star, who overcame an ankle problem to take part in his club's run to the Champions League final, was substituted with 13 minutes remaining after a blow to his foot in Stockholm.

Deschamps was asked about Mbappe's fitness as France prepare for Tuesday's fixture against Croatia – a rematch of the 2018 World Cup final.

"He was better after the game," Deschamps told reporters. "He took a bad blow on his sensitive ankle. He kept playing, even if I did not take any risk.

"We will see how he feels tomorrow [Sunday]. The other players too. I don't want to take any risk. So let's see how his ankle reacts tomorrow. I'll talk with him to see if he can play on Tuesday against Croatia."

Deschamps added: "I did not find him less strong than usual. He is not at his best, clearly, as others, but has this power to score all the time as he did on his action of his goal. There are not many players who can do that.

"He has some lightnings, he is maybe not into consistency but he is a permanent danger for the opponent. He had his injury and he tried everything to be there at the Champions League final eight where he plays the final.

"After that he stopped playing. He needs to be careful at the training sessions, before and after. We were not very worried about his ankle, it's still not the case. As he said, with time it would be better every day."

Meanwhile, 21-year-old RB Leipzig defender Dayot Upamecano made his debut for France.

Upamecano, who has been linked to Manchester United, was yellow carded early and Deschamps said:" First selection is never easy when you are a young player, and he is a young player.

"He can't have the same confidence of those who play many games with us. He took an early yellow card, so it's not just the risks he took as a defender with the ball, it's more about his fault. Because there are 90 minutes almost to deal with after that, and it change his way to defend then in his interventions. 

"But he needs to go through this period, he has shown a lot of physical presence in the defensive area. He knows how to play in this 3-5-2 system, even if with Leipzig he plays more in the centre of the back three. And it was the first time he played with these players.

"I don't give excuses, but I take that in consideration for my analysis. He is able to control better [his nerves] but he is a very young player and this game will help him for what comes next."

Dayot Upamecano admitted he is in talks with clubs after signing a new deal with RB Leipzig amid links to Premier League giants Manchester United.

United are reportedly eyeing a move for Leipzig defender Upamecano, who has also been linked with the likes of Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Arsenal.

The 21-year-old centre-back extended his Leipzig contract at the end of July, tying him to the Bundesliga outfit until 2023.

Set to earn his first France cap as the world champions prepare to face Sweden in Saturday's Nations League fixture, Upamecano addressed the speculation.

"I extended my contract with Leipzig because I feel good with my team-mates," Upamecano said.

"My coach is giving me confidence. He's learning as well, but he gives me confidence and it improves my level.

"I've been in Leipzig for more than three years, I feel good. I've been in demand, I talked to some clubs, it's true, but I'm not in a hurry.

"We'll see what happens in the future."

Upamecano earned plenty of admirers following his exploits for Leipzig during their memorable run to the Champions League semi-finals.

The Frenchman was particularly impressive against Atletico Madrid in the quarter-finals, nullifying Diego Costa and Alvaro Morata.

"Obviously when you play a Champions League semi-final, your status changes, especially because it was the first semis for Leipzig. We wrote history," he added.

"When I was in Portugal, I wasn't paying attention to what happened outside of it until the end. Because I didn't play in Ligue 1, I was just in academies in France, I became known in Germany."

With Donny van de Beek set to arrive, are Manchester United targeting another new signing?

RB Leipzig defender and France international Dayot Upamecano is reportedly high on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's list as the United manager eyes a partner for captain Harry Maguire.

It could be a busy transfer window for United.

 

TOP STORY – UNITED WANT UPAMECANO

Manchester United are targeting RB Leipzig centre-back Dayot Upamecano, according to ESPN.

United are poised to complete the signing of star Ajax midfielder Donny van de Beek and the Red Devils are now eyeing further recruits.

While United continue to pursue Borussia Dortmund's Jadon Sancho, the Premier League giants have made French defender Upamecano – who signed a new deal until 2023 – a top transfer target. Upamecano has also been linked to the likes of Bayern Munich and Arsenal.

 

ROUND-UP

Lionel Messi wants to leave Barcelona but his possible move to Manchester City could prove difficult. Tuesday's Mundo Deportivo claims City will abandon their bid to bring Messi to Manchester if they are forced to pay a transfer fee for the six-time Ballon d'Or winner. Messi feels he is a free agent following the 2019-20 season.

- Fabrizio Romano reports United expect to receive a bid from Roma for defender Chris Smalling, who spent the 2019-20 season on loan in the Italian capital. It comes as the Red Devils eye a new centre-back.

- Sky Sport reports Milan are set to complete a one-year loan deal for Real Madrid's Brahim Diaz. The 21-year-old Spaniard has struggled for game time since arriving in 2019. Le10 Sport, meanwhile, says Milan are very interested in Lille midfielder Boubakary Soumare, who has been previously linked to the likes of United, Arsenal, Liverpool and Madrid.

James Rodriguez is on the cusp of leaving Madrid for Carlo Ancelotti's Everton, according to Romano.

- Calciomercato claims Juventus forward Gonzalo Higuain is in advanced talks to join former team-mate Blaise Matuidi at David Beckham's Inter Miami in MLS.

Arturo Vidal wants to terminate his Barca contract, says Sky Sport Italia. Gianluca Di Marzio also reports Inter are already in talks about signing the former Juve midfielder.

- France Football says Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly has agreed personal terms with City amid interest from United and PSG.

Paul Pogba is absent from France's squad for their upcoming Nations League fixtures due to coronavirus, but his Manchester United team-mate Anthony Martial has earned a recall. 

Martial, 24, initially broke into France's senior reckoning as a 19-year-old shortly before he joined United in 2015, going on to win 18 caps. 

But, after a promising first season in England, Martial's form suffered and he found himself struggling to hold down a regular starting position, which in turn saw others usurp him in the pecking order for France. 

The versatile forward has seen his career at Old Trafford reinvigorated by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, however, with the 2019-20 campaign seeing him finish with a career-best 23 goals across all competitions. 

United team-mate Pogba will not be joining him against Sweden and Croatia, though, due to the midfielder’s COVID-19 diagnosis – instead, he is replaced by 17-year-old talent Eduardo Camavinga. 

The Rennes prospect will become the youngest player to represent France since World War Two, should he feature in either match. 

There are also maiden call-ups for RB Leipzig centre-back Dayot Upamecano and Lyon midfielder Houssem Aouar, while Adrien Rabiot - like Martial - is included for the first time since March 2018. 

Bayern Munich trio Benjamin Pavard, Corentin Tolisso and Kingsley Coman are rested following their team's Champions League success, though club colleague Lucas Hernandez is included. 

Nabil Fekir, Thomas Lemar and Tanguy Ndombele are also among those left out. 

France face Sweden in Solna on September 5, then host Croatia three days later at the Stade de France in a repeat of the 2018 World Cup final.

France squad in full:

Hugo Lloris (Tottenham), Mike Maignan (Lille), Steve Mandanda (Marseille); Lucas Digne (Everton), Leo Dubois (Lyon), Lucas Hernandez (Bayern Munich), Presnel Kimpembe (Paris Saint-Germain), Clement Lenglet (Barcelona), Ferland Mendy, Raphael Varane (both Real Madrid), Dayot Upamecano (RB Leipzig); Eduardo Camavinga (Rennes), N'Golo Kante (Chelsea), Steven Nzonzi (Rennes), Adrien Rabiot (Juventus), Moussa Sissoko (Tottenham), Houssem Aouar (Lyon); Wissam Ben Yedder (Monaco), Olivier Giroud (Chelsea), Antoine Griezmann (Barcelona), Jonathan Ikone (Lille), Anthony Martial (Manchester United), Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain). 

Eduardo Camavinga merits his call-up to the France squad because the difference he makes at Rennes can already be seen, according to Didier Deschamps. 

Teenage midfielder Camavinga was named in the team to face Sweden and Croatia in the Nations League next month after Paul Pogba tested positive for coronavirus. 

At 17 years and nine months old, he could become the youngest France player since World War Two and the first born in the 2000s to turn out for Les Bleus. 

Camavinga made his Rennes debut as a 16-year-old in April 2019 and made 25 appearances last season as the club qualified for the Champions League, having sat in third place when Ligue 1 was curtailed amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

He has been linked with a move to Real Madrid but is expected to remain at Rennes for the 2020-21 campaign. 

"Maybe it's a little early but what he does on the field, it's felt," Deschamps said upon announcing his France squad on Thursday. 

"With Rennes, it's different when he's on the field and when he's not there."

Lyon midfielder Houssem Aouar and RB Leipzig defender Dayot Upamecano were also selected by Deschamps for the first time.

"I like his [Aouar's] technical quality: dribbling, assists, goals. He is showing more consistency," said the France boss.

"He is an attacking midfielder who can play centrally or off a wing – he is much less a defensive player.

"We've followed [Upamecano] he was close to getting called up. He is very physical and has a great presence.

"With what he was able to do in the Champions League, I felt it was the right moment. It's up to him to keep this level."

Is Ronald Koeman the chosen one?

Quique Setien was sacked by Barcelona on Monday, following the club's Champions League horror show.

And Netherlands head coach Koeman – a former Barca defender – is reportedly on the verge of being appointed.

 

TOP STORY – KOEMAN TO LEAD STRUGGLING BARCA

Ronald Koeman is set to become Barcelona head coach, according to widespread reports.

Netherlands boss Koeman is reportedly the man Barca want to appoint following Quique Setien's sacking in the aftermath of their 8-2 Champions League humiliation against Bayern Munich.

Tuesday's frontpages of Marca and Sport say former Barca defender Koeman will replace Setien.

Voetbal and Sky Sports claim LaLiga giants Barca are holding talks with the Dutch Football Federation (KNVB) as they seek to appoint Koeman.

 

ROUND-UP

- With Koeman set to vacate his position, Fox Sports presenter Jan Joost van Gangelen claims former Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has offered to take the Netherlands job. Wenger has been out of work since leaving Arsenal in 2018.

- The Guardian reports Premier League champions Liverpool are unwilling to pay the €30million (£27m) fee Bayern Munich are asking for star midfielder Thiago Alcantara. The Spaniard has also been linked to Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City.

Inter remain in talks with Brescia to sign star midfielder Sandro Tonali, reports Fabrizio Romano. Inter will reportedly try to finalise a transfer following the Europa League final. Tonali has also been linked to champions Juventus.

- Alfredo Pedulla says Napoli want to sign Arsenal defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos but are still trying to negotiate a fee. It comes as Arsenal reportedly close in on Lille centre-back Gabriel Magalhaes, who has also been targeted by Napoli.

City are preparing a new and improved offer for Napoli star Kalidou Koulibaly, says Sportitalia's Pedulla. Napoli are reportedly keen to sell Koulibaly in order to raise funds for Gabriel.

- According to Sky Sports, Manchester United are monitoring Juve winger Douglas Costa. The future of Costa in Turin is in doubt as new boss Andrea Pirlo rebuilds and with United struggling to prise Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund, they could turn to the Brazilian.

- Cadena Ser claims Barca plan to force pay cuts on players who refuse to leave Camp Nou. Luis Suarez, Jordi Alba and Ivan Rakitic are among three of the highest earners who the club are hopeful of selling this off-season.

Milan are hopeful of re-signing Gianluigi Donnarumma and Zlatan Ibrahimovic before the end of the month despite negotiations dragging on, according to Calciomercato.

- AS reports RB Leipzig defender Dayot Upamecano could join Real Madrid in 2021. Due to the financial situation amid the coronavirus pandemic, Madrid are reportedly holding off on major transfers until next year.

RB Leipzig's rapid rise to prominence in the Champions League has left them on the brink of a European final, with Paris Saint-Germain standing in there way.

Though star striker Timo Werner has departed for Chelsea, Julian Nagelsmann still has plenty of quality players at his disposal, and chief among them is Dayot Upamecano.

The centre-back, who has a brilliant turn of pace and plenty of power, has drawn interest from some of Europe's biggest clubs in recent seasons.

However, for the time being at least, Leipzig have fended off any approaches, with Upamecano having signed a new deal, which runs until 2023, in July.

With his immediate future settled, Upamecano has the chance to prove he truly is worth the hype as Leipzig take on PSG – spearheaded by two of the world's greatest attackers in the form of Kylian Mbappe and Neymar – in Lisbon.

The story so far

Despite supposed interest from Manchester United, Manchester City and Arsenal at the time, Upamecano opted for Salzburg in 2015 and soon got a taste for first-team football at feeder club Liefering.

Given the links between the clubs, it came as little surprise when the centre-back chose Leipzig in January 2017, quickly adapting to a new country and league with 12 Bundesliga appearances over the rest of the campaign.

Upamecano's displays over the next year saw him nominated for the 2018 Golden Boy award, won by then-Ajax defender Matthijs de Ligt, but his game has since gone up another level under the stewardship of Nagelsmann.

He has been a mainstay at the back, making 37 appearances in all competitions so far in 2019-20.

What have they said?

A number of current and former stars have heaped praise on the 21-year-old, with former team-mate Werner comparing him to Bayern Munich's Jerome Boateng, and during the enforced break in action amid the COVID-19 outbreak, German football legend Lothar Matthaus talked up the youngster.

But for now, Upamecano seems perfectly happy where he is. 

"I feel right at home here in Leipzig - the overall package is perfect," said Upamecano after signing his new contract.

"We had good conversations with [chief executive] Oliver Mintzlaff, [sporting director] Markus Krosche and [head coach] Julian Nagelsmann, which showed to me that extending my contract was the right decision for me to make.

"Our young and hungry team is part of an ambitious club. I want to take the next step with Leipzig and reach our aims, because I'm convinced by the way we play our football.

"I have been in Leipzig for over three years and I have continued to improve alongside the team's development. I want to carry on developing personally, and I think Julian Nagelsmann is a coach that can bring me to the next level."

Areas of weakness?

Upamecano is quick and strong, a fine player to progress the ball out of defence – he has made more vertical runs with the ball in the Champions League this season than any other player left in the competition – and is excellent in the air.

The Frenchman is still developing, though, and there is certainly room for improvement in terms of his temperament. 

This was evidenced in June, when Upamecano allowed frustration to get the better of him and he received a second booking two minutes before half-time in a Bundesliga clash with Paderborn.

Leipzig were in front at that stage yet Paderborn ultimately claimed a dramatic point when captain Christian Strohdiek struck in the 92nd minute, and team-mate Kevin Kampl was far from happy.

"It was completely unnecessary," Kampl said to Sky Germany about defender Upamecano's sending off. "We lead 1-0, have the game under control and then we weaken ourselves."

Fortunately for Leipzig, the draw did not ultimately cost them a place in the Bundesliga's top four.

The biggest challenge yet?

Though Upamecano has faced the fearsome attacks of Bayern and Borussia Dortmund, he is about to come up against two of the world's finest forwards.

Neymar missed some golden opportunities in PSG's quarter-final tie against Atalanta, but ultimately played a key part in both of their goals as the Ligue 1 champions snatched a late win.

Meanwhile, his partner in crime Mbappe is sure to start after coming on as a substitute in that win – with the youngster, who had been recovering from an injury sustained in July, going on to provide the assist for Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting's winner.

Leipzig switched to a back four against Atletico Madrid, with Upamecano tasked with marking Diego Costa and, subsequently, Alvaro Morata – and putting in a brilliant display.

But with the trickery and guile of Neymar, and the pace of Mbappe – not to mention the poaching ability of Mauro Icardi – PSG will present an altogether different challenge.

However, if he manages to marshall Leipzig's defence against some of world football's most clinical finishers, then Upamecano may well confirm his status as one of the best defenders in world football.

Page 1 of 4
© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.