As a club who reached the semi-finals of the Champions League just 11 years on from their inception, it probably won’t come as much of a surprise to you that RB Leipzig like to live life in the fast lane.
No sooner has a player left the club have they snapped up their next hot prospect who they’ll no doubt sell in three years time for ten times the amount they paid for him.
The imminent departure of star man Dayot Upamecano to Bayern Munich means Julian Nagelsmann’s side will be left with a huge void in the centre of their defence, and they’ve wasted no time at all in looking to address the issue with the arrival of Strasbourg defender Mohamed Simakan.
The 20-year signs for a reported £15m and will join the Bundesliga club at the end of the season having penned a five-year deal, but just who is he?
Fear not, 90min have provided you with everything you need to know about the player who’s caught the eye of one of the best recruitment teams in Europe.
Usually when a player as talented as Simakan emerges in the professional game, you find he’s spent the majority – if not all – of his youth career at a top club.
However, Simakan represented more sides before turning professional than some players do in their entire career, with Marseille and Strasbourg just two of the SEVEN teams he played for between 2008-2019.
Despite his journeyman-like early years, he’s yet to play outside of France and so a move to Germany represents a huge challenge for the youngster.
Born in Marseille, Simakan has already received international recognition at youth level after being called up to the France Under-20 side by Bernard Diomede in 2019.
Until he’s handed his debut for the France senior side he’s also eligible to represent Guinea.
You’d expect such a top talent to opt to play for the 2018 World Cup winners, but with a number of quality French centre-backs not even getting a look in, it’s not inconceivable that he could switch his allegiance.
It’s not uncommon for players to switch positions during their development years, but it’s difficult to understand why Simakan did.
At Under-11 level he played as a centre-forward and he bagged 130 goals! Why on earth would a youth coach look at a 130-goal striker and tell him he should be a centre-back?
Still, worked out alright for him we suppose.
While it sounds like he’s got the goalscoring instincts to play up front if his team ever needed him to, Simakan can also play in numerous positions across the backline.
The 20-year is primarily a centre-back but can also fill in at right-back, and he’s already been compared to legendary Frenchman Lilian Thuram as well as Real Madrid defender Raphael Varane.
Sounds like he might be alright…
While £15m for a player who sounds like he’s got the ability to reach the very top seems cheap, the deals isn’t without it’s risks.
Simakan suffered an awful knee injury back in 2018 and was said to be at risk of never playing again, though luckily he bounced back and cemented his place in the Strasbourg starting XI.
However, the defender hasn’t featured for the club since January having picked up another knee injury shortly after the turn of the year, and it’s unclear if the two knocks are related.
If you needed any more proof that Simakan is a top talent, the youngster was awarded Strasbourg’s Player of the Month award three times in the space of four months.
He’s become an integral part of their first team this year and he played the full 90 minutes in Strasbourg’s first 14 league outings this season, though the aforementioned knee injury has hampered his campaign.
He’s not expected to be sidelined for too much longer and was given the green light to sign for RB Leipzig at the end of the season after completing a medical.
Securing a summer move will probably have come as a relief for Simakan more than anything, with speculation about his future constantly circulating over the past few months.
RB Leipzig have long been credited with an interest in him while Milan were also said to be keeping tabs on his performances.
Premier League champions Liverpool contemplated a January swoop as they looked to bolster their threadbare defensive options, though they ultimately secured the signings of Ozan Kabak and Ben Davies instead.