Arsenal have reportedly enquired about Barcelona defender Samuel Umtiti, according to AS, but the Gunners have a doubt before making their interest concrete.
The 26-year-old centre-back has failed to get many games under his belt for Barca this season, making just 16 appearances in all competitions (Transfermarkt).
Umtiti has suffered recurring injury problems this term, and lost his place to Gerard Pique and Clement Lenglet under previous manager Ernesto Valverde.
AS reports that Barca are eager to raise funds this summer and several players will be up for sale, with Umtiti – who reportedly cost the Camp Nou side £21million (BBC Sport) – deemed top of the outgoings list.
Although the France international’s release clause is a mighty €500m (£460million), the Blaugrana will reportedly consider considerably less than that – simply recouping their initial outlay will be a decent bit of business, apparently.
It is reported that Barca fear facing a challenge to find a buyer, and although several clubs including Arsenal have inquired about his availability, all have made the same demand before pushing further – an exhaustive medical examination of his troublesome knee.
Despite worries over his fitness, Umtiti is undoubtedly a world-class player, described by The Independent in 2018 as follows:
“He does have a strong physical presence and impressive athleticism, but his value lies as an astute, tactically proficient, tidy and composed defender.
“His calmness in possession allows him to be the foundation stone for his side’s attacking moves; the impassable rock from which they can construct their artistry.”
While Umtiti is a high-calibre player, his recurring knee injury has been a major problem, and judging by the AS report, Arsenal and other suitors are equally concerned.
If the La Liga season concludes and Umtiti is able to prove his fitness – and particularly that his knee is in good shape – he will be an attractive proposition for many European clubs.
Arsenal, who have had defensive problems this season, will certainly benefit from a fully-fit Umtiti in their ranks.