Barcelona defender Samuel Umtiti has reportedly emerged as a transfer target for AC Milan ahead of the upcoming January transfer window.

According to Italian journalist Rudy Galetti, out-of-favour Barcelona defender Samuel Umtiti is being courted by Serie A heavyweights AC Milan who are in the market for a centre-back.

Umtiti has been with Barcelona for over five years now, having signed from French outfit Olympique Lyon in the summer of 2016. The 28-year-old made a fine start to life at Camp Nou and quickly became a regular in the side. However, recurring injury problems and a rapid decline in form have left him frozen out of the first-team picture at the Catalan outfit.

Indeed, since the onset of the 2018/19 campaign, Umtiti has started just 29 La Liga matches and has not featured even once in any competition in the ongoing season. The 28-year-old was not favoured by previous manager Ronald Koeman and does not seem to enjoy the faith of new boss Xavi Hernandez either.

Barcelona tried to offload him in the summer transfer window, but a move never materialised. However, they could get a chance to sell the 2018 FIFA World Cup winner in the upcoming January window as AC Milan have shown an interest in securing his signing.

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The Rossoneri have been forced into the transfer market for a new central defender after Simon Kjaer picked up a serious injury last month that will sideline him for the rest of the campaign. With Stefano Pioli & co. firmly in the picture for the Serie A title, it becomes imperative that they have adequate depth in the squad to deal with injuries and sustain their title challenge.

So, Milan are now looking for reinforcements in the centre-back department, with names such as Benoit Badiashile of AS Monaco and Vfl Wolfsburg’s Maxence Lacroix being considered. Along with them, Barcelona’s Umtiti has also emerged as a prospective target for the Italian giants.

Despite his injury record and high wages, what could appeal to Milan is that the Catalans could be willing to let him go for free as they look to get him off their payroll and free up some space for new arrivals. The Rossoneri might have to deal with competition from Portuguese bigwigs SL Benfica, who are interested in a loan move for Umtiti.

It remains to be seen if Milan are successful in their endeavours to land the French international or are forced to look at other options to replace the injured Kjaer in January.

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