This article is part of Football FanCast’s Transfer Focus series, which provides opinion and analysis on recent transfer news…
According to Spanish publication Mundo Deportivo, Manchester United have turned to Barcelona defender Samuel Umtiti as an alternative to Matthijs de Ligt this summer.
The report claims the Red Devils had been in the race to sign De Ligt but with the Ajax defender on the verge of a move to Juventus, the club have decided to pursue a move for Umtiti instead.
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It adds that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have held initial discussions with their Catalan counterparts and that if De Ligt performs a dramatic U-turn to move to the Camp Nou, then Umtiti would become available for a transfer.
After shipping a seismic 54 goals in the Premier League last year- their worst defensive campaign in the top-flight since the 1978-79 season – United have been on the hunt for a commanding centre-half.
Reports in recent weeks had touted Harry Maguire as a possible option but as is often the case with British players, the premium price tag placed on the Englishman might just see them turn elsewhere. And that could well be a blessing in disguise.
At 25, Umtiti is a year younger than the Foxes centre-back and throughout his time at both Lyon and Barcelona has picked up far greater experience at the highest level. The France World Cup winner is a two-time La Liga champion, a two-time Copa Del Rey winner and was voted into FIFA’s FIFPro World XI second team in 2018. It’s fair to say the defender has the resume to back his talents up.
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The biggest concern over the 6 ft defender has always been his injury troubles. It was one of the main factors behind him slipping out of favour at the Camp Nou and is a worrying sign indeed. But United are in dire need of not just a quality defender, but a presence with a winning mentality too.
Umtiti was a cornerstone of France’s success in Russia 2018 and showed his big-game credentials with the winning goal against Belgium in the semi-finals. If United are to return to the big-time, they need to think big. Going after a man who missed 28 games last season through injury may look questionable on paper, but taking a chance on him could be the roll of the dice that nets United the jackpot of Champions League football.