Barcelona offered key updates on the fitness of goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen and center-back Samuel Umtiti on Thursday.
Ter Stegen is yet to feature for Barcelona this season after going under the knife in August to repair a knee injury. However, the Germany international was back in training for the first time on Thursday.
Umtiti also took part in some of the session as he bids to return from knee trouble. The Frenchman is also yet to feature in 2020-21 but is closing in on a comeback.
Barcelona players were back on the training ground on Thursday after an important Champions League win over Juventus in Turin. Ronald Koeman’s side return to action in La Liga on Saturday against Alaves.
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Ter Stegen Still Key for Barcelona
News Ter Stegen is closing in a return to full fitness will be a big boost for Barcelona fans. The 28-year-old has become a key player for the Catalan giants and is viewed as one of Europe’s best goalkeepers.
Barca recently moved to secure Ter Stegen’s future at the club. The stopper has signed a contract extension at the Camp Nou that runs until 2025. His buyout clause is set at an eye-popping €500 million.
Ter Stegen is expected to slot straight back into the starting XI when fully fit, taking over from deputy Neto. The Brazilian has proven an able back-up in Ter Stegen’s absence but should drop back down to the bench.
Outcast Umtiti Hoping For Second Chance
Meanwhile, Umtiti will be hoping he can force his way into Koeman’s thinking after a tough time with injuries. The Frenchman is no longer a guaranteed starter at the Camp Nou and has slipped way down the pecking order.
Gerard Pique, Clement Lenglet, and 21-year-old Ronald Araujo are now Barca’s first three central defensive options, while Koeman has also been keeping tabs on Barca B defender Oscar Mingueza and included the youngster in his Champions League squad.
Umtiti looks to have his work cut out to play regularly at Barca again, although he did tell Canal Football Club in a recent interview that he is not interested in leaving the Camp Nou, as reported by Sport.
I don’t see myself at any club than Barca. I’ve been pretty clear about that with everyone. Lyon is my club, my city. They were the team that gave me the chance to play in Europe, at Barca and in the national team. There were conversations with Lyon this summer, but there was nothing in concrete. The last two years have been the worst of my career. I’ve never worked so hard. I need to make up for lost time.
Yet the Frenchman could face even more competition for a place in the team shortly. The Catalan giants are expected to try and bring former defender Eric Garcia back from Manchester City in the January transfer window.
Koeman has said “there is a chance” that Barcelona “are going to have another go for Garcia” when the window opens in the winter, as reported by the Manchester Evening News. Garcia left for Manchester City in 2017 but is out of contract at the end of the season.