Arsenal are likely to get Upamencano, but do we really need him?

Do Arsenal Really Need Upamencano?

It sounds like the worst kept secret in football at this point. The rumours have been long and pronounced. We have videos of fans asking Raul Sanllehi when Upamencano would be arriving. RB Leipzig reportedly rejected a 55 million euros bid in the summer. The 21-year-old’s contract is running out and his club will have to cash in. Like Kylian Mbappé to Real Madrid, Dayot Upamencano to Arsenal sounds like destiny at this point. It would be a disappointing summer for many if the Frenchman does not arrive at the end of the season.

But no has paused to ask the question: even if Dayot Upamencano is available, should Arsenal get him? The answer seems obvious. Yes! You do! You get one of the best defensive talents on the continent if you can!

But at what cost? At 60 million euros? Really? The highest fee ever paid for a centreback is 75 million euros. That would be a centreback good enough to almost win the Ballon d’Or.

The fee wouldn’t be a problem if Upamencano was going to be the finishing addition to what is already a great team like Van Dijk to Liverpool. It wouldn’t be a problem if Arsenal had a shortage of defenders. But when you will likely have Rob Holding, Calum Chambers, David Luiz, William Saliba, Pablo Mari and Konstantinos Mavropanos next season (assuming Mustafi and Sokratis are sold), then the efficiency of spending such a huge amount on a prospect is to be questioned. All the more so when the player in question has only one more season left on his contract.

Blowing 50-60 million euros on a 21-year-old with one year left on his contract is not the Arsenal Way. And it is not a guarantee that the signing will work out. At the risk of sounding like a Kroenke shrill, it must be said that Arsenal should be more hesitant with Upamencano. If the transfer fee were more reasonable, say, 35-45 million euros, all things considered, then why not? But we are talking about a huge sum of money here that would directly affect how much we’ve left for other areas.

Ultimately, this is a matter of perspective. What is more important to Arteta’s Arsenal now? A shiny young centreback for one of the biggest sums in football history or two very quality midfielders who would replace Ozil?

Let’s say our transfer budget before sales is 50 million euros. Let’s assume that this swells up to 100 million euros after sales. Let’s assume that we want two 8s who can also play like 10s (Houssem Aouar, Jack Grealish, James Maddison, Abdoulaye Duocore, Bernado Silva). Getting two high quality midfielders would probably eat up the entire budget and leave no room to sign a big-name central defender. If we do otherwise and sign Dayot Upamencano at all costs, we would probably be left with very little to sign even one high quality midfielder. Instead of Jack Grealish, for example, we might get a Todd Cantwell. This is what a team with an expensive Upamencano would likely look like next season:

Bellerin; Saliba; Upamencano; Tierney
Torreira; Xhaka; Cantwell
Pépé; Lacazette; Aubameyang

Without Upamencano, we might have:

Bellerin; Saliba; Luiz; Tierney
Torreira; Grealish; Aouar
Pépé; Lacazette; Aubameyang

Of course this is not definitive. Who knows, the Kroenkes might decide to invest more money into the club so that we might end up with a budget closer to that of Chelsea’s than Wolverhampton Wanderers’. Or we might get Upamencano for cheaper than we imagine. Or we might sell Xhaka and/or either of Lacazette and Aubameyang. Many possibilities exist and I am not denying them. But the truth is that we’ve been defensively solid under Arteta’s coaching.

Since Mikel Arteta came in, we’ve conceded only 7 goals in 9 games. Mustafi and a Bernd Leno mistake has been directly responsible for 3 out of these goals and deflections feature majorly among the rest. In other words, we have conceded less than Manchester City and Chelsea over the same time period and we would have conceded even less without Mustafi. This is an outstanding improvement, considering that Mikel Arteta’s achieved this without even a full preseason of training to get the team acclimated to his tactics.

Luiz and Saliba is a very capable partnership on paper. Under Arteta’s guidance, it would be an excellent one with Holding, Chambers and Mari as backups. Our midfield currently needs a creativity boost. Getting two Jack Grealish’s would improve the whole squad to a Champions League quality level.

It’s all a question of perspective and priorities. Fix the midfield once or fix the defence? Give a chance to Holding and Chambers or take a big risk on Upamencano?

Agboola Israel


  1. At any cost? No. He’s got 1 year left in his,contract. Shouldn’t be less than 30m.

    Can we swap Laca with Werner? Throw Nelson on loan there as well to sweeten the deal.

    Btw, Mavropanos was rated Nurnbergs best player yesterday once again with 4 interceptions, 2 blocks and 5 clearances. Didn’t get MOTM because opposition forward scored 2. Mavro was rated 2nd best in that game.

    It seems like Bundesliga 2 is too weak for him. Well good thing he’s getting the minutes.

  2. Good analysis, l hope they will read this and take a good decision as pertaining to our recruitment in the summer

  3. See my comment in relation with this, in a previous article about Saliba.At the end of this season well have 8 center backs.

  4. I don’t think we will be spending big till we off load the big salary earners. Also with Pepe 70 m and Laca 55m being over shadowed by Martinelli 7m the club is gonna buy young and cheap, players coming off contract, freebies or loans.

  5. it’s all if and maybe’s, if we don’t get into the Champions League, would he want to come? I think you are being very arrogant in thinking all these players would jump to join us. He is a young quality centreback, with WS could be our future. Luiz is decent, but old, Does he rate Holding? Played Mustafi infront of him, who starts tomorrow? Mari is a cheap experiment , as for further forward, we have some of the most amazing attacking talent we have ever had. Are you forgetting about Smith-Rowe, Willock, Ozil is finished time to give Dani a chance. Auba leaves we have Gabby and Eddie and don’t forget JJ. I would play Gabby in the middle tomorrow we need a good header of the ball in the box. U can’t plan anything at the moment, we could be shopping in the pound shop or Harrods

    1. Luiz is palpably NOT decent ! How can you write such nonsense. He is appalling and mistake ridden and no use.

    2. How you guys keep adding Willock to the list of young talents is beyond me. He’s average at best. If we don’t go all out to get a Madison/Grealish type next summer we would slip further down the table.

  6. An odd argued argument in this article, IMO. fIRST aDMIN Pat calls himpne of the continets best. In th next breathn he argues that we have ano shortage of defenders, though I note he does NOT say no shortage of quality defenders, so he has got THAT one right at least. As of now we havenot one CB of proven Prem quality at the club , yet PAT feels we should not bring in a talented(his own words!) CB to our club which has lacked atrue top quality CB sincde CAMPBELL LEFT ADECADE AGO. Words fail me at this odd logic. I realise money has to bespent wisely but do not remotely agree that just because we have let in fewer goals under Arteta so far, that our current defence is anything except rank poor. That is completely obvious surely, even if Mustafi and Luiz go. The very FIRST player I would try to sign, were I manager, would be a world class CB, as Liverpool did so spectacularly successfully.

    In todays market , £55-£60 mill is the going rate and we need to pay it or continue to stagnate and embarrass our great defensive history by continuing with clowns or little better than clowns in defence. Personally I cannot stomach another dreadful defensive decade like the one up til now. I ache for a real quality defence at our club, as we once had, back in “time travel days”!

      1. GB, if we only conceded .99 a game under AW with no CB’s since Sol Campbell, what would we do with decent CB’s?

        Actually, a further fact about our CB’s, that some people obviously are unaware of, is that when the BFG and Kos played together, they went 35 games without losing one…just shows the importance of having top class defenders.

        We have got the rest of this season to see if Mari is a cheap buy, amazing how some “fans” write him off, before he’s played one minute under MA.

        There is, surely, no case for Mustafi (?) Luiz or Soks with the likes of Mari, Salibas, Holding, Chambers and Mavs battling for the two CB’s places next season?

        We now have two RB’s and two LB’s in the squad and, if we are to spend this kind of money, we should be looking at the likes of a Grealish type player, if MA decides to let Ozil go at the end of next season.

        With the abundance of younger players coming through, I can certainly see what Agboola is getting at – I do believe, however, that MA knows exactly what he wants and I am perfectly content to let him get on with it and if he can produce a pair of w/c CB’s who go thirty five games without losing one of them, the club will at least equal that .99 goal a game average conceded figure of the twenty two years under the previous regime.

        1. Ken, competition for positions can only be good for the success of the Club. I, too am sure that Arteta knows what he wants; the big question is will the owner and Board support Arteta in getting the players HE WANTS?

  7. We will have 7 CBs in the Summer, with the option of adding Opamencano and Mari (permanently) to the List


    It is hard to point any one of these who is better than Opamencano.
    He might also be a bit cheaper this time as he will only a year on his contract

    I guess the Decision will be ease after seeing how Mari and the ones we have will perform till the end of the season…. no doubt the Defence has improved but its due to the improvement of our most suspect CBs in Mustafi and Luiz ( can we count on them to continue like that the whole of 20-21 season)

    Personally as of now…
    I would sell Socratis and one of Luiz/ Mustafi
    Loan back Mavropanos
    Buy Opemencano
    Sign Mari permanently if he proves to be decent

    Opamencano, Saliba, Mari, Chamber, Holding and Luiz for 2020-21 season will be great

  8. Have you constantly watched him play to make assertions. It is a case of us fans believe every player that is not ours is better than ours. Some us believe these players will come in and be better with regards to change in culture, tactics and method of the club. Some just want new players at every turn. If we don’t do well it is because we don’t have good players and don’t buy well. No consideration for other factors

  9. Have you constantly watched him play to make assertions. It is a case of us fans believe every player that is not ours is better than ours. Some us believe these players will come in and be better with regards to change in culture, tactics and method of the club. Some just want new players at every turn. If we don’t do well it is because we don’t have good players and don’t buy well. No consideration for other factors. As for Upamencano, I don’t know if we need or will get him or not but as some pointed out we have 7 CD excluding Mari that will after option to buy, the only way we buy him is to sell 4 of those players we have already.

  10. This deal will take a while if it does happen because of what you stated. We cannot have so many CB’s at the club and would need to ditch at least two before signing Upamecano. I don’t think this signing is going to happen just because we’ve been linked with him for so long and so often, and that is when it usually never materializes. He’s better than any CB we have at the club I’ll admit, so would never refuse for him to come. But he also will not be the saving grace many fans seem to want him to be.

  11. I would buy in Upamencano and sell Mustafi, Socratis and Luis.
    Holding is still rusty after his injury but I think if he can stay injury free and with good coaching he will come good for next season.
    I would keep Chambers as back up for injuries in either center back or defensive midfield. He did well in that position at Fulham.
    I also think Mavropanos did well when he played after we signed him. We didn’t see him again after he got injured. I would need to see more of him to make a judgement.
    One thing is for sure, even with Saliba in the team the defence still needs to be worked on.

    1. Dan, your last sentence is very true, but we now have the right personnel ( four fullbacks for instance) a veritable cluster of CB’s of varying ability and a coach who has a vision that will see that the defence is worked on.

      I agree with your view of selling the three palyers mentioned and buying Upemencano, but it will be easier said than done – at least if we are to get some kind of return on the three of them.
      Plus the ability to get kronkie to dip his hand in his pocket and spend that kind of money, when we are also being told by some that we need to buy a replacement No. 10 – someone of Grealish’s talent will cost upwards of £80,000,000 once the big money boys start the auction off.

  12. Is this article an example of trying to gen one right out of two wrongs??
    It seems to me it is wrong to state we are likely to get him. He is a very sought after player at the moment, so I find it doubtful we should be likely to get him.
    It is also wrong to state, we don’t need him. Because we do.
    At the moment, we have no CB’s in his class. But we have several, that we don’t need/want:
    Mustaphi (reasons are obvious)
    Chambers (top Championship standard)
    Holding (very average)

    Socratis is OK, but he is really not a long term solution, because of his age alone.
    Luiz is OK, but he isn’t exactly young either.
    The jury is still out on Mavropanos, and Saliba may be good.

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