Samuel Umtiti has recently fallen down the pecking order at Barcelona.
But even though the likes of Gerard Pique and Clement Lenglet have got the nod over the Frenchman in recent times, there is no doubting the extent of his ability.
Of course, the now 26-year-old has been extremely unlucky with injuries in the last two seasons and has suffered four different fitness issues in the span of just two campaigns.
Needless to say, that has stopped his development and caused this fall from grace for the centre-back.
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But even with that being said, it seems that Umtiti is currently on the radar of Manchester City, as L’Equipe (via Sport Witness) note that Pep Guardiola is also in dire need of reinforcements in the backline due to constant injury woes, though the club are slightly concerned by his injury record.
Despite being out of commission for quite some time, the defender is still very much a high-quality player.
To reinforce that statement, we sought the opinion of those who know him best…
Abidal is a Barcelona legend but also a former Lyon player as well – and that’s exactly what ties these two defenders together.
They both started off in France and moved to Catalonia, and interestingly enough, both are still at the Nou Camp – Abidal as the sporting director and Umtiti as Blaugrana’s centre-back.
But back when he was still playing for Lyon, Umtiti was already seen as a huge talent and Abidal showered him with praise, stating how he’s a world-class player and really important for his team.
He said for Lyon’s official webpage (via ESPN):
“He is world-class. That’s why he’s a starter at a club like OL. He has a lot of qualities.
“I really wish him the very best for the years to come. He’s such an important player that it would be really tough for OL to let him go.”
When the manager of your national team showers you with compliments, then you know you’re doing something right.
And Deschamps, who went on to win the 2018 World Cup in Russia with Umtiti in his squad, always knew the 26-year-old is an incredible player in his own right.
Prior to the Frenchman’s big move to Barcelona, his national team coach wasn’t surprised by his emergence as Umtiti has shown incredible maturity even from young age.
Here’s what he said at a press conference, as quoted by ESPN:
“I’m not surprised by Sam. What he’s doing with us is what he was doing before.
“He knows I have confidence in him. Some players aren’t mature at 30, some are mature at 20 – and he’s in the latter category.
“He deserves all the praise. He has the force of character and the force of personality that you need.”
As Barcelona’s former sporting director, Fernandez was very much involved in bringing Umtiti to Barcelona in the first place.
Of course, he would go on to be replaced by Abidal himself but he still played a key role in bringing the Frenchman to the squad in 2016.
When he finally signed, Fernandez admitted Barcelona were following him for a long time and he didn’t shy away from paying Umtiti a couple of huge compliments as well.
He said, as quoted by Sport:
“The club had information on him for some time, from when he was playing youth team football. We knew for a while he could be a good player.
“He passed all the tests and we began to look for information to find out what his character was like. From there, the idea became much clearer.
“We found a young player, but a mature one with a good personality. And that’s what he’s shown us since he arrived at Barcelona.
“He has a maturity which is not always common.”
It seems that Umtiti was always considered a top prospect in football, showing incredible maturity even when his age would suggest otherwise.
Of course, his injuries are still a concern but when he’s fit and firing, the Frenchman is very much still a world-class players.
Let’s see if Guardiola decides to take a gamble.
Elsewhere, Inter Milan shouldn’t miss out on the opportunity to snatch away one of Frank Lampard’s fringe players…