Newcastle United are interested in a deal to bring Samuel Umtiti to St. James’ Park in the January transfer window.
That’s according to a report by Spanish publication Marca, who claim that Eddie Howe has identified the Barcelona centre-back as one of his primary targets in the winter market, with the Magpies believed to be preparing a £17m offer for the 28-year-old.
The report goes on to state that, as a result of the LaLiga side’s dire financial situation, Xavi Hernandez is willing to sanction the sale of the France international next month, with Newcastle, AC Milan and Benfica the three clubs believed to be most interested in the defender.
While it is true that Umtiti has fallen down the pecking order at Camp Nou in recent seasons, making just one appearance in LaLiga during the current campaign, it is undeniable that the £220k-per-week centre-back would nevertheless be a huge improvement on Howe’s options in the heart of his current Newcastle defence – who have already shipped a joint league-high 42 goals this season.
Indeed, in the season following the defender’s £24.6m move to Barcelona back in 2016, the World Cup winner was one of Barca’s most impressive performers over his 25 LaLiga appearances, helping his side keep eight clean sheets and scoring one goal, as well as making an average of 1.9 interceptions, 1.1 tackles, 2.7 clearances, 63.4 passes and winning 65% of his duels per game.
These returns saw the player who Mundo Deportivo claimed “has become a perfect successor to Carles Puyol” earn an extremely impressive seasonal SofaScore match rating of 7.12, ranking him as the club’s ninth-best player in the league that year.
As such, considering the fact that he is still just 28 years of age – entering what is typically the peak age of performance for a centre-back – should Umtiti be able to rediscover this level of form after his potential switch to the North East next month, £17m would very much look to be a bargain for a player who legendary defender Eric Abidal dubbed a “world-class” talent.