Manchester United are paying attention to rising star Castello Lukeba, according to reports coming from Germany.
Newspaper BILD report Manchester United scouts have been watching Lukeba closely at RB Leipzig this season and have been impressed.
Fussball Transfers also relay Manchester United’s interest via BILD, reporting that the young defender’s ‘rapid development’ has really caught the club’s eye.
This is a welcome case of Manchester United targeting a rising star as opposed to an overly expensive established player. Let’s take a look at everything you need to know.
Castello Lukeba, the story so far
Castello Lukeba, 20, is into his first-ever season at RB Leipzig since making the summer move from French side Lyon.
He came through Lyon’s academy, making his first team debut under Peter Bosz in 2021. He also featured under former United star Laurent Blanc.
In the summer he secured a move to German side RB Leipzig, who have made a habit of raiding Ligue 1 for players in recent years, previously signing Dayot Upamecano, Christian Nkunku and Ibrahim Konate.
They paid a significant fee for his services, approximately £28 million, reinvesting part of the money from selling Josko Gvardiol to Manchester City for £78 million. AP News report Lyon will also receive 20 per cent of a future sell-on fee.
Lukeba has played 10 of RB Leipzig’s 11 league games this season, with the team in fourth place in the Bundesliga. He has started eight of those matches, scoring once.
He is forming a promising partnership alongside another talented French centre-back, Mohamed Simakan, who is 23.
Lukeba has recently been called into the France international senior squad, making his debut for his country in October, following his role as captain for the under-21s where he made 14 appearances.
Castello Lukeba player profile
Castello Lukeba, what they say
RB Leipzig sporting director Max Eberl was thrilled to land Lukeba in the summer, telling their club website: “Castello Lukeba was our number one target for the centre-back position. We have been interested in Castello for a while now. His style of play will fit perfectly into our side and he will be a key part of our squad.
“Despite being just 20, he’s already developed a lot and is one of the most talented young defenders in Europe.”
Manager Marco Rose speaks highly of Lukeba and believes he could even play as a left-back if required to.
He told their club website in the summer: “Castello has a very good left foot and has integrated well. It’s already been very enjoyable watching him in training. We need to see how and when we can integrate him into our style of play. There’s always the option of playing him as part of a back three.
“I also believe that he can play as a left-back. That’s not the plan, but it could be possible under certain circumstances.”
Laurent Blanc was unhappy at losing him in the summer, telling SoFoot: “It’s a sporting loss. We didn’t plan to lose players, but in all clubs it’s like that.”
WhoScored list Lukeba’s strengths as his passing and interceptions, and cite aerial duels and discipline as his statistical weaknesses.
How Castello Lukeba fits in
Lukeba is a centre-back and the position is one where Manchester United are widely expected to strengthen, either in January or in the summer.
Lukeba is one of a number of talented players linked to United, along with Jean-Clair Todibo, Antonio Silva, and Goncalo Inacio.
Moving for a RB Leipzig player is also fascinating as this is one of potential incoming sporting director Paul Mitchell’s former clubs. It is the type of signing he would have made, signing a young star on the rise.
Manchester United need to get younger at the position and Lukeba is a very interesting option, a player who is nowhere near his peak, and already performing at a high level, playing Champions League football for the first time this season.
Castello Lukeba to Manchester United analysis
Manchester United might worry about already missing the boat on Lukeba, considering he was already available at £28 million in the summer. The club invested money in other positions instead.
RB Leipzig will not want to lose him so soon, with Lukeba signing a five-year contract. His price tag will have risen, and they will also be due to pay money to Lyon per his sell-on fee.
However, at a price of £50 million, if United wanted to go that high, he would cost around the same as Inacio or Todibo, and less than Silva, and if the club believe he is the better player, it is a deal they should do.
We certainly do not expect a deal to be done in the January transfer window, but Manchester United will be paying close attention to his form over the course of the season.