A defender with "enormous potential", Dayot Upamecano is commanding a first-team place at Salzburg at 17, admitting: "The only thing I'm struggling with is learning German."
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UEFA.com's scouts check out Salzburg defender Dayot Upamecano, who is wary of being billed as the new Raphaël Varane.
Name: Dayot Upamecano
Debut: 19 March 2016 v Mattersburg
Born: 27 October 1998
Preferred foot: right
They say ...
"For a 17-year-old, he plays with such composure and he is really strong."
Óscar García, Salzburg coach, after Upamecano's debut
"Dayot's development has been lightning quick in the last two years, combining great ability with an exemplary spirit. There are still areas where he can improve, but he has proved himself a key player in our squad with actions rather than words."
Jean-Claude Giuntini, France Under-18 coach
"Dayot chose us despite offers from some of Europe's top clubs. He has enormous potential. We are convinced he will show what he can do."
Christoph Freund, Salzburg sporting director
Born in Evreux, Normandy, Upamecano joined Valenciennes in 2013 and made his debut for France's U17s on his 16th birthday in October 2014. A starring role in France's 2015 UEFA European U17 Championship triumph coincided with a move to Salzburg, despite reported interest from the likes of Bayern, Manchester United and Arsenal. Loaned to second-tier Liefering last season, he is now well established with Salzburg's seniors.
Playing style ...
Aggressive but not reckless, the gutsy central defender reads opponents well and shows good anticipation to win challenges. Composed on the ball, he can dribble out of defence to help his team build up play – an attribute which has led to Salzburg coach Óscar García deploying him as a holding midfielder.
Shades of ...
... a young Raphaël Varane or Mats Hummels; he has the same maturity, physical presence and skill that both possessed as youngsters. The Varane comparison, however, is one the 17-year-old is eager to avoid. "I watch Varane a lot and definitely try to learn from him, but I don't want to play exactly like him," Upamecano said. "Players have to find their own style if they are going to be remembered."
Eureka moment ...
Handed his Bundesliga debut in March 2016 – when he won over 70% of his duels across the 90 minutes of a 2-1 win against Mattersburg – Upamecano has been a first-team regular this term. He made his UEFA Europa League bow in a 1-0 loss to Kuban Krasnodar on 15 September.
Best-case scenario ...
Following Martin Hinteregger's switch to Augsburg, Upamecano can expect a starting slot at Salzburg. Domestic and European football with the club, and youth internationals with France, give him a great platform to get noticed.
He says ...
"Coming to Salzburg was the right decision for me. I'm learning in a good environment with a brilliant atmosphere. The only thing I'm struggling with is learning German, but that will come in time."