Upamecano: RB Leipzig boss urges defender to learn from mistakes
Julian Nagelsmann says Dayot Upamecano is "on his way to being world class", but must be more careful on the ball - as Opta stats show.
Dayot Upamecano will eventually learn from his mistake against Paris Saint-Germain, says Julian Nagelsmann, but the RB Leipzig head coach acknowledges these errors are occurring too often.
Upamecano gifts PSG opener before conceding penalty
Highly rated defender Upamecano gifted PSG the opener in Wednesday's Champions League clash, although Leipzig recovered to claim a potentially vital 2-1 win.
The defender attempted to bring the ball out of defence in the sixth minute before turning back and looking for goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi, only to pass the ball straight to Moise Kean, who fed Ángel Di María to score.
Upamecano - linked with the likes of Manchester United and Real Madrid - later conceded a penalty, too, before Leipzig started their fightback, but it was the early error that most concerned Nagelsmann as a pattern appears to be emerging.
"The mistakes he's making are all starting the same way," Nagelsmann said. "He wants to pass the ball to the attackers right away once he's won it. That simply does not work all the time.
"I can see a learning curve. Against Hertha, we've had similar situations, the same at the start of the second half against Gladbach, where we end up defending one against two players.
"He has to recognise when he can play the ball forward and when not. He is used to playing the ball forward fast to create a counter-attack.
"He grew up like this during his first year at Leipzig, when this was the main tactic. Now the next step has to come."
The errors are particularly frustrating as Upamecano has established himself as one of the Champions League's outstanding defenders.
In Group H this season, only Rafael (14) has attempted more tackles among defenders than the Frenchman (12), who has been successful on a pool-high eight occasions.
Upamecano ranks third for duels contested with 36, behind Rafael (41) and Layvin Kurzawa (39), but has the best duel success rate - 69.4 per cent - of any Leipzig, PSG, United or Istanbul Basaksehir defender to play in two or more games.
The 22-year-old has won possession on 29 occasions, more than any Group H rival.
But Upamecano's risky approach once on the ball is not paying off. He is one of only two players in the group - along with Alexandru Epureanu - to commit an error leading to a goal.
His passing accuracy is a middle-of-the-road 85 per cent, yet that drops to 73.8 per cent in the opposition's half, causing Leipzig to suffer on the counter.
By comparison, compatriot Presnel Kimpembe - a similarly combative ball-winner at PSG - completes 89.1 per cent of passes in the opposition half.
Nagelsmann: Upamecano can be world-class if he cuts out errors
Nagelsmann added: "In general, Upamecano is on his way to [being] world class, but he has to stop these things, obviously. He knows it himself, he is very critical of himself.
"It's a learning curve, he only has good intentions and wants to create attacks for us. He simply needs to recognise the right moment to switch from defense to attack.
"Today he should have played the ball to Peter Gulacsi.
"It's the same when attacking. There are moments where you simply have to get the ball back, and then there are moments that are about scoring a goal.
"Recognising this situation is a learning curve which he will succeed in, simply because he is that talented. I hope he will succeed soon, because then we have less distance to go."
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