Dayot Upamecano will be a wanted man next summer, when a new contract clause at RB Leipzig kicks in.
The France international has starred in recent seasons for the Bundesliga upstarts, emerging as one of Europe’s finest young defenders.
Upamecano, 22, impressed for Julian Nagelsmann’s men in their run to last season’s Champions League semi-finals, and elected to stay at the Red Bull Arena amid a host of interest – signing a new contract in the process.
That move ensured he couldn’t leave RBL for nothing in 12 months, protecting his value.
But within his new contract, Upamecano also has a new release clause, worth £40million – much less than the £52million in his last deal.
As such, he is widely expected to move next summer, with a deal expected to be sorted before the European Championships.
Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain will likely be at the head of the queue, while Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane is a big fan and could make a move of his own – at some point Los Blancos will need to find a successor to Sergio Ramos.
Manchester United have also been keeping tabs on Upamecano, and their interest will only have intensified following their early season defensive struggles.
They’ve conceded 11 times in their first three Premier League matches of the new season – equalling a Premier League record.
And while they explored the possibility of landing Upamecano early in the summer, they were never going to be able to land him on deadline day.
Manchester United are looking to plot their path back to the top. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has already brought in Donny van de Beek but Jadon Sancho remains Manchester United’s number one target.
As such, attention will turn to next summer, and whether they can get him then – particularly if criticism over the current central defensive options – Eric Bailly, Victor Lindelof and Harry Maguire – doesn’t subside.
However, the club are aware that Upamecano only has interest in leaving RBL in 2021 for a member of Europe’s elite playing in the Champions League.
With a desire to become first-choice for his country, where there is astonishing strength in depth at centre-back, he knows he must be competing at European football’s top table.
If United aren’t in the competition in 2021-22, then they simply won’t be able to compete for his signature.