Arsenal warned about £52m transfer target who is ‘definitely better’ than Chelsea star

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has been warned that “many of the big clubs in Europe” will be looking to sign Dayot Upamecano this summer. The RB Leipzig centre-back has long been a target for the Gunners.

Express Sport understands a £50million bid was considered by Arsenal in January, though Arteta instead strengthened his back-line by signing Pablo Mari on loan from Flamengo.

But Upamecano is still on the north London outfit’s radar with the Daily Telegraph reporting that Chelsea, Tottenham, Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich also keeping tabs on him.

And former United defender Rio Ferdinand expects a clutch of clubs to compete for the 21-year-old in the summer.

Upamecano faced Spurs on Tuesday night in the second leg of Leipzig’s Champions League last-16 clash with Arsenal’s arch-rivals, having missed the first leg due to suspension.

That night, Chelsea teenager Ethan Ampadu – on loan at Leipzig – made just his seventh appearance for Die Roten Bullen and impressed in the middle of a back three.

But Peter Crouch, also talking about Upamecano alongside Ferdinand, thinks Upamecano is “definitely better” than Ampadu defensively as the Frenchman replaced the England youth international for the return tie at the Red Bull Arena.

Ferdinand said on BT Sport: “He [Upamecano] seems like a modern day defender, physically really strong and quick, aggressive, very assertive in the way he plays. 

“His passing range, you need that in this game. 

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“This one [vs Borussia Dortmund] is almost [Andrea] Pirlo-esque, the way he clips this over the centre-half in between the centre-half and the full-back. 

“I think he’s somebody who’s very high on the shopping list of many of the big clubs in Europe at the moment. You can understand why seeing those clips.”

While Crouch said: “I thought Ampadu was an adequate replacement [in the first leg] to say the least to be honest, he was dictating play in the centre of that back three. 

“Upamecano is similar in some ways. I think he’s probably better defensively than Ampadu, makes some fantastic interceptions. 

“There’s big talk about him, maybe Arsenal looking at him for a big, big fee. 

“I think defensively he’s definitely better than Ampadu but he’s also got a pass in him as well, he’s not just breaking up play, he’s setting up attacks. 

“That’s why he’s so valued.”

German outlet Kicker claim the player has a £52.4million (€60m) release clause.

The pacey centre-half is only under contract in Saxony until the summer of 2021 and so Leipzig may be forced into selling him in a few months’ time.

Upamecano’s exit clause was previously as high as £72m.

Speaking about his future last month, he told Foot Mercato: “I feel very good at RB Leipzig.

“I like my team-mates, the staff and my club. For the moment, I am still under contract until 2021. I am going to have to continue to train well and play matches.

“Even though I know that there are clubs that want me, that is certain, I am keeping my feet on the ground.

“We will discuss my future at the end of the season with my agents and my family.

“Of course [it’s flattering to be linked to Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Arsenal] but I am at Leipzig and I want to reach the aims that the club has set. I do not want to talk about anything else at the moment.

“I want to finish the season with Leipzig and nothing else.”

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