Samuel Umtiti is set to leave Barcelona this summer, or is he? Conflicting reports emerged on Thursday regarding the France international with his future still in some doubt.
According to Catalan daily Sport, Barcelona have already made it pretty clear to Umtiti that he is surplus to requirements and is no longer wanted at the Camp Nou.
“Samuel Umtiti won’t be part of the first-team picture next season. The French centre back hasn’t performed at the level required and the club have told him to look for a new club. Due to the current market, both sides have agreed a loan deal would be the best option.”
Yet Gabriel Sans at Mundo Deportivo reports that Umtiti is “focused on recovering from injury and is not talking to the club about his contractual situation.” Umtiti is contracted to the Catalan giants until 2023 and “intends to fulfil it,” according to Sans.
Umtiti is currently sidelined with a knee injury, and the club have given no indication yet of when he will be fit to return.
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Umtiti Slipping Down the Pecking Order
There’s no doubt that Umtiti has slipped down the pecking order, largely as a result of his continuing injury problems. The World Cup winner has struggled with knee injuries over the last two seasons and has opted for conservative treatment rather than surgery.
Clement Lenglet has benefited from Umtiti’s injury troubles and has established himself as a solid partner alongside Gerard Pique in the heart of the Barcelona defence since arriving from Sevilla.
Young Uruguayan Ronald Araujo is also emerging as an option for Quique Setien’s side for next season. The 21-year-old has made six appearances for the first team in 2019-20 and could find himself officially promoted to the senior side.
Injuries Putting Off Buyers
Umtiti was widely regarded as one of the best centre-backs in Europe in his early days at Barcelona, but his injury record has seen his stock fall and also appears to be putting off potential buyers.
There have been plenty of clubs who have expressed an interest in the World Cup winner but they want assurances about his fitness, as explained by Javier Miguel at AS.
“Several clubs including Arsenal have inquired about his availability but all have made the same demand before making their interest concrete: an exhaustive medical examination of his troublesome knee.”
A sale therefore looks out of the question this summer. However, if Barcelona are serious about offloading the defender then a loan deal where Umtiti can prove his form and fitness away from the Camp Nou looks the only realistic option.