The Hard Tackle takes a look at three potential destinations for French defender Samuel Umtiti as Barcelona prepare to sell him in the summer.
2020/21 proved to be a mixed bag of a season for Barcelona. For a while it appeared as if a double could be on the cards for the Blaugrana, as they made a fine charge for the La Liga title upon the turn of the year, only to falter massively in the dying embers of the campaign. And so, in the end, Ronald Koeman & co. were only third in the standings, with Copa del Rey their only success in the season.
Having said that, Barcelona have made definitive progress under the tutelage of Koeman, who did start off a little slowly before getting his ideas through to the squad. However, what the season gone by has proven is that the squad needs to be refined for the Catalan giants to take the next step and truly challenge on all fronts in the upcoming term.
That would entail Barcelona to get rid of the deadweight while bringing in a few players who can elevate them to the required standards. Speaking of deadweight, one player who looks set to be among the first ones out the exit door at Camp Nou appears to be Samuel Umtiti, with Barcelona reportedly ready to cash in on him this summer.
It, therefore, appears as if Umtiti is fast approaching the end of his time at Barcelona, five years after arriving at Camp Nou from Lyon, especially with Eric Garcia completing his Bosman move, from Manchester City. With that in mind, The Hard Tackle now takes a look at three potential destinations for the 27-year-old French defender, as Barcelona consider a summer sale.
The first name on our list is that of a club that has pursued Samuel Umtiti on and off for the better part of the last couple of years. This summer’s transfer window, though, could be the one wherein Arsenal finally manage to secure the services of the Frenchman, owing to his precarious situation at Barcelona.
As far as their own defensive resources are concerned, Arsenal are set to lose David Luiz this summer, with the veteran Brazilian defender departing as a free agent. In addition, the Gunners have also suffered a lot as the incumbent centre-backs have blown hot and cold, with none of Rob Holding, Gabriel Magalhaes and Pablo Mari managing to establish themselves as nailed-on starters.
Furthermore, the future of William Saliba remains up in the air, despite a decent enough loan stint at OGC Nice. With that in mind, it would hardly be surprising to see Arsenal make a move for Umtiti, although the 27-year-old’s own inconsistencies at Barcelona would be a cause for concern, while his injury record would not exactly fill those at Arsenal in with a lot of confidence.
Having said that, Arsenal do seem to be pressing ahead with a possible move for Umtiti in the summer transfer window. Add to it, the fact that Barcelona want to get rid of the defensive misfit, and the Premier League heavyweights could well have the chance of landing him on the cheap. A move that is definitely possible.
From one prospective suitor to a club that has hardly been linked with the 2018 FIFA World Cup winner. However, AC Milan could well do with a player of Umtiti’s abilities, especially considering that a few key changes are afoot at San Siro heading into the summer transfer window.
For one, it appears as if captain Alessio Romagnoli has played his final game for the Rossoneri, after having lost his place in the side to Fikayo Tomori in the final months of the season. Although Milan are set to secure the services of Tomori on a permanent basis, they would still need another central defensive addition, seeing as Simon Kjaer and Matteo Gabbia are the only other centre-backs at Stefano Pioli’s disposal.
To that end, someone like Umtiti could come in handy, considering he will likely come at a cut-price fee and might not be a regular feature at the heart of the AC Milan defence. With Romagnoli being offered to Barcelona, a player-plus-cash deal could be engineered as well.
While Umtiti has blown hot and cold at Barcelona in recent times, the slower nature of Serie A and Italian football in general could help him find his feet again. With AC Milan hardly being linked with any centre-backs as things stand, a move for Umtiti could well be in the offing.
Last but not the least is a club that has a special place in Umtiti’s heart and might be well-placed to land him in the summer transfer window. We are, of course, talking about Lyon, where Umtiti first broke out in senior level club football.
In fact, Umtiti previously spent 14 years at Lyon, having joined their academy in 2002 as a nine-year-old before eventually making his breakthrough in their first-team setup in 2012. And, ever since he first stepped foot in Barcelona, the 27-year-old has always maintained that he would be open to returning to Lyon in future.
The time could well have come for him to make his big return, as he nears his departure from FC Barcelona. And, a move makes sense from a sporting perspective as well, with Marcelo on the wrong side of 30 and nearing the final phase of his career. To that end, Umtiti could be the long-term successor for the Brazilian. Will it be a grand homecoming in the end for the Frenchman?