Arsenal’s defensive problems saw them focus on that side of the game in the summer transfer window. They did sign Dani Ceballos and Nicolas Pepe. But they signed William Saliba, David Luiz and Kieran Tierney. What caught the eyes of many at the end of the window was their interest in RB Leipzig’s Dayot Upamecano.
There was talk that Arsenal did indeed make an offer for the Frenchman. But it was rejected by the German club, as they were not willing to let him leave. These were encouraging signs for the Gunners’ fans, who were given some hope about possibly signing one of the best defensive starlets in Europe.
Not just Upamecano. Arsenal have also previously been linked with Ibrahima Konate- Upamecano’s Die Roten Bullen teammate. While those links have not yet materialised into a concrete offer, but there could yet be interest in the 20-year-old defender.
As things stand, Arsenal’s defensive issues are still very much documented. They have let in 15 goals this season, only two less than Newcastle United. David Luiz was signed from Chelsea, but the Brazilian has taken criticism from many.
Unai Emery has struggled to get his midfield combinations right. It has been questioned multiple times and that hasn’t helped the defence, in terms of getting the organisation at the back right.
Kieran Tierney was signed from Celtic, but the young defender has been used as a left-back and was used as a left wing-back in their recent 1-1 draw at Vitoria. But as things stand, Arsenal aren’t in the best defensive shape.
As far as Upamecano is concerned, the Frenchman has played six times in the Bundesliga. He was recovering from an injury early in the season, but he is now back fit and starting games on a regular basis.
A defender who is good on the ball, Upamecano has made 1.5 tackles per game. He has also made 2.8 interceptions per game, completing just as many clearances for the side. Aerially, he has won 1.2 aerial duels per game.
These are very good numbers for a 21-year-old defender. The fact that he is playing regularly for a Champions League club is an achievement in itself. RB Leipzig are currently priced as third-favourites to win the Bundesliga title by many leading German bookmakers like EagleBet.com with odds around 8/1 for Julian Nagelsmann’s team. Given Dortmund’s inconsistent form and the mess at Bayern currently, Leipzig’s solid defence based around these two players and their attacking play means there is value in that bet.
20-year-old Konate, recently suffered a torn muscle fibre injury which was kept him out of the last few games. But he played five times in the Bundesliga, making 1.8 tackles per game and completing 1 interception per game.
Both Upamecano and Konate have hardly played together this season. But when they have, they have played in a three at the back shape alongside Willi Orban or Nordi Mukiele.
Both are playing their third consecutive full seasons since they made his debut. Despite being 20 and 21 respectively, they have a lot of experience at tender ages. They are the sort of defensive recruitments that Arsenal have made in Tierney and Saliba.
But with Saliba set to return back to the Emirates next season, it has to be only one of Upamecano or Konate. Also financially, how much Arsenal shelled out on Saliba and Pepe means they might be as rich. With Shkodran Mustafi being constantly linked with a move away from the Emirates, Arsenal have to recuperate some funds from his sale.
They should put that to good use and sign one of the two Leipzig starlets. Or someone else will take them away very soon.