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Arsenal lining up move for Dayot Upamecano

Yes, please. But also, with what money?

RB Leipzig v Hertha BSC - Bundesliga Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

According to a Tuttosport report, Arsenal are set to buy Dayot Upamecano from RB Leipzig, edging out our old friend Ivan Gazidis’ AC Milan for the highly coveted 21-year old’s signature. The centerback is out of contract in 2021, and Leipzig have said they’ll either sign him to a new contract or sell him. They “can’t afford” to let him run down his contract and leave for free (imagine that).

This isn’t the first time Upamecano has been linked to Arsenal. He’s basically become the new William Carvalho — the guy linked with the Gunners in every window. Leipzig reportedly turned down a £50M Arsenal offer for him last summer, seeking no less than the £72M release clause in his contract. Even in what most think will be a significantly depressed market, I can’t see him moving for less than £40M, and I don’t think Arsenal have that kind of money right now.

As with all transfer rumors, take this one with a grain of salt. Tuttosport aren’t the most reliable outlet when it comes to rumors, but they did break the Ronaldo to Juventus story two years ago, so we can’t dismiss them out of hand. I’m also not sure how much money the Gunners will have to spend on transfers this summer. As they often do, the Arsenal brass are dampening expectations and saying that the club doesn’t have much to spend. I’m more willing to put aside my usual skepticism this window given the financial impact of the coronavirus shutdown. That said, it’s not as if Arsenal and the Kroenke’s have no money / couldn’t find the cash if the right deal came along. Remember, they found a record transfer sum for Nicolas Pepe last summer when they had previously said spending would be limited.

Complicating this summer’s transfer dealings is the fact that Arsenal are the only club in the Premier League to negotiate a pay cut with their players during the shutdown. The optics of asking the players to give up a portion of their salaries to then turn around and spend tens of millions on a transfer months later aren’t great. On the other hand, it’s important for the club to continue to demonstrate the desire and willingness to bring in talent to compete for the Champions League; Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang suggested as much in his recent comments on his contract status.

The details of the transfer window haven’t been fully ironed out, but the Premier League has said they won’t be open for business until after the season ends in late July. To ease the financial and logistical strain caused by coronavirus, FIFA has granted permission for all leagues to conduct business up to four weeks before their seasons conclude and to leave the window open for several weeks longer than normal. Each league will make their own decision on specifics within that framework.

Upamecano is the kind of signing Arsenal need to be pursuing as they look to overhaul the roster. He’s a young, promising talent, and he fills a position of need at the club. The idea of a Saliba-Upamecano partnership anchoring the Arsenal backline for years is an exciting one. Who wouldn’t want the French national team’s centerback pairing to be their club’s pairing too? Forget Raphael Varane and Kurt Zouma; Arsenal are putting the future of Les Blues in red.

TL:DR - the move doesn’t seem likely because I don’t think Arsenal have the money for it, but man, it would be nice.