Reports: €100 million defender set to reject Liverpool for Barcelona
What's the story?
A defender for €100 million? And best of all, an 18-year-old bundle of unproven potential and promise... for €100 million?
Such are the times we live in, my friend.
And the mere fact that the rumour mills are willing to keep the tales spinning, knowing the amount, and the age, involved is as good an indication as any that the transfer market ceiling is still ever-rising, ever-capable of surprising the living hell out of us.
This time, the combined might of SI, SportBild, and the Mirror claim that Barcelona and Liverpool are all set to go head-to-head over one of Europe's hottest sensations, RB Leipzig's French centre-back Dayot Upamecano - who has a €100 million release clause in his contract.
And here, is where the twist comes in.
Upamecano is great friends with Ousmane Dembele - even attending grade school with the second most expensive player on the planet - and Barca are sure that will turn his head away from the struggles of Liverpool's defence and toward the Camp Nou.
In case you didn't know
Before joining RB Salzburg in 2015 for a €2.2 million fee (remember, he was 16 then) he had attracted a great deal of interest from Manchester United and other European giants... and he spent two years there before joining RB Leipzig for a reported €10 million.
Winner of the UEFA U-17 Euros in 2015, he is a fixture of the French junior teams and it seems like only a matter of time before he breaks into the senior team.
The heart of the matter
He's played 19 matches for Leipzig since joining them in January - and considering Dembele too had just one year of Bundesliga experience under his belt before Barca came calling - this indicates a new age where the super clubs are willing to take a plunge for talent, however unproven, in order to have an edge over their competitors.
For Barcelona, this could prove a prudent investment... while Gerard Pique and Samuel Umtiti but the latter is on the wrong side of 30 and Umtiti (just 23) would enjoy playing alongside a fellow Frenchman in the future... Barcelona need to build for the future in defence and Upamecano seems to fit the bill perfectly
Here's the young Upamecano in action:
Absolute beast, isn't he?
Upamecano, however, has a very smart head on those hefty shoulders, earlier saying "The Bundesliga is ideal for talents. Here, young players get much more bets than in Spain or England" and it just might be wise to stick around the Bundesliga and learn the ropes of senior football before moving to the absolute pressure-cooker atmosphere of the Camp Nou... or even Anfield.
Besides, here's how he responded to interest in him from Barca - "That honours me, of course. But for the moment, only RB Leipzig counts. Here I must work hard to later achieve my future goals."
Handled that much better than his friend Dembele, didn't he?