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Arsenal are likely to go back into the transfer market for defensive reinforcements next summer.
The January transfer window is not one that the Gunners utilise very often, but there could be some moves made.
The Gunners bolstered their defensive options in the summer by signing David Luiz from Chelsea and Kieran Tierney from Celtic, while William Saliba signed from Saint Etienne, but returned to the French side for another season on loan.
Arsenal still remain a little suspect at the back this season, despite those signings, though, with 11 goals conceded in their eight games so far this season.
So will they make any more signings in defence?
Before signing Luiz from Chelsea, the Gunners were linked with numerous defenders over the course of the transfer window, including Daniele Rugani from Juventus, and RB Leipzig’s Dayot Upamecano.
Who is Dayot Upamecano?
Upamecano is a 20-year-old centre-back who was born in France but holds dual citizenship with Guinea-Bissau.
He is right-footed and can also play in central midfield. He plies his trade in the German Bundesliga with Red Bull Leipzig, where he has played for two seasons, since moving from the other Red Bull team in Salzburg for £9million.
Upamecano is big, strong and with pace to burn. Not only that but he is an old-fashioned defender who “loves to defend” according to France youth coach Jean-Claude Giuntini in 2015.
He grew up playing alongside the likes of Ousmane Dembele.
How did he get on last season?
Pretty well, for the first half of the season at least.
He made 22 appearances in all competitions for Leipzig, which helped them into the top four in the Bundesliga and into next season’s Champions League.
However, his season was cut short by a knee injury.
Missed 18 games as a result of the injury, between January and May, returning to the team for the final two games of the campaign.
What happened in the summer?
According to German publication Bild, Arsenal made a huge offer to try and snare Upamecano.
Having spent a whopping £72million on Pepe, Bild said that Arsenal have lodged a bid of €60million for the 20-year-old centre-back, having been linked with him in the past.
That offer was rejected by Leipzig, who do not want to sell.
Arsenal’s stance on Dayot Upamecano exchange
RB Leipzig were hoping over the summer that the Gunners would throw in Emile Smith Rowe in order to get a deal done.
The 19-year-old spent the second half of last season with RB Leipzig, and it’s thought that they’re keen to bring the attacking midfielder back to the Bundesliga either on loan or on a permanent deal.
However, football.london revealed that the Gunners have no interest in letting Smith Rowe leave the club, meaning that any deal for the defender will need to be a straight-cash deal.
What he has said about his future
Upamecano helped the Bundesliga side into the Champions League this season.
And what he said a year ago should concern Arsenal if they have any hope of capturing the defender.
He has another two years left on his current Leipzig contract, and said in 2017/18: “I see no reason why I should go away. I have a huge opportunity here to develop and to get regular game time.”
He also said, during his time at Salzburg that he “didn’t want to go to a very big club too soon”.
Could a move to the Premier League, just a year later, be seen as too soon still?
What Unai Emery has said
It’s quite clear that the Gunners head coach is keen to bring in one more centre-back within the next week, but has not mentioned any names.
“We are speaking about the centre backs, but we have a lot of centre backs, we have good centre backs, and if we can sign one more centre back, it is because he is clearly better than we have,” he told reporters. “Because at the moment we have six.
“We are in different positions with some players because Mavropanos has his injury and we are continuing to see that situation.
“We have until August 8, and we need to speak over these few days about how we can be, and how we can close our squad.”
According to the Mirror, Arsenal were pointed to the defender’s £92million release clause by RB Leipzig should they wish to have an offer accepted by the German club.
Having already reportedly rejected a bid for the defender, Leipzig are determined to keep their man, with it being likely that should they wish to sign Upamenco the fee they will have to pay would eclipse that of the £72million they paid for Nicolas Pepe in the summer.
Release clause lowered
According to L’Equipe, Arsenal Upamecano’s release clause is currently at €80million and will be reduced to €60million in 2020.
It remains to be seen whether the Gunners will return in the summer transfer window for the defender, with William Saliba set to return to the club from a season-long loan from Saint-Etienne.
Arsenal fans have encouraged midfielder Matteo Guendouzi to try an persuade his friend Upamecano to make a switch to the Emirates Stadium.
Both players were with the France U21 squad for their U21 European qualifiers against Azerbaijan and Slovakia last week.
Ahead of the games, pictures of both Guendouzi and Upamecano together were posted on social media, with Arsenal fans showing their excitement at the potential link.