If Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich are to overcome second-place RB Leipzig at the Allianz Arena on Saturday, they will need to get the better of a player that could well be lining up for them next season.
Dayot Upamecano has become one of Europe's most sought-after defenders following a string of dominant displays in the German top flight and the Champions League.
With Bayern's centre-back pairing of David Alaba and Jerome Boateng expected to leave at the end of the season, Hansi Flick has been heavily tipped to pay the reported €42m release clause in Upamecano's contract to bring him to Bavaria.
Ahead of what many are billing as the 22-year-old's audition over the weekend, we use Opta data to see if Upamecano would be an upgrade on Bayern's experienced central defenders.
The story so far
Despite supposed interest from Manchester United, Manchester City and Arsenal at the time, Upamecano opted for Salzburg in 2015 and soon got a taste for first-team football at feeder club Liefering.
Given the links between the clubs, it came as little surprise when the centre-back chose Leipzig in January 2017, quickly adapting to a new country and league with 12 Bundesliga appearances over the rest of the campaign.
Upamecano's displays the next year saw him nominated for the 2018 Golden Boy award, won by then-Ajax defender Matthijs de Ligt, but his game has since gone up another level under the stewardship of Julian Nagelsmann.
He has been a mainstay at the back, making 38 appearances in all competitions in the 2019-20 campaign.
Solid as a rock
Upamecano helped Leipzig finish third in the Bundesliga and reach the Champions League semi-finals last season.
He has started the 2020-21 campaign with a spring in his step and boasts particularly impressive defensive numbers when compared to Alaba and Boateng.
In his eight Bundesliga games, Upamecano has won 90 per cent of his tackles, with only Bayer Leverkusen's Edmond Tapsoba enjoying a better success rate (92 per cent) among those with at least 10 attempts. Alaba and Boateng are way behind in that department, with 50 and 57 per cent success rates respectively.
Upamecano contests significantly more duels than his Bayern counterparts, averaging 7.7 per 90 minutes to Alaba's 4.9 and Boateng's 5.7.
He has also won 65 per cent of his aerial battles this term, more than Alaba's 50 per cent and Boateng's 61 per cent, and has only been dribbled past by an opponent once all season.
With such impressive figures, it is hardly surprising that Upamecano has conceded just 0.7 goals per game this season, while Alaba and Boateng have let in 1.8 and 1.5 respectively per 90 minutes.
Contributing at the other end
It is not just in defence where Upamecano excels.
He boasts wonderful passing skills and consistently starts attacks for his side. This season he has initiated eight sequences that ended in a shot and been involved in 32 overall – both figures outstrip the Bayern pair.
Alaba and Boateng both average 75 passes per 90 minutes, while the forward-thinking Upamecano gets through 89 in the same period.
He is also more accurate when sending the ball long, successfully completing 75 per cent of such passes compared to Alaba's 54 per cent and Boateng's 58 per cent.
Robert Lewandowski will be licking his lips at the prospect of getting on the end of some of those passes should Bayern seal a deal for one of Europe's most impressive young defenders.