BARCELONA

Barcelona: Umtiti sale mission impossible for Camp Nou board

The Camp Nou board are planning on putting the France defender on the market this summer but are aware that given his injury problems a sale is unlikely.

Barcelona: Umtiti sale mission impossible for Camp Nou board
RODOLFO DIARIO AS

Barcelona are eager to raise funds this summer and several players will be up for sale, chief among them France defender and World Cup winner Samuel Umtiti. Barça tried to offload Umtiti last summer without success but are expected to issue a come and get him offer to Europe's top clubs again in a few months as the Camp Nou board plans a trim of the current squad to concentrate on a couple of key targets in the next window, including Inter Milan's in-form Lautaro Martínez. 

Umtiti's international teammate Antoine Griezmann is not guaranteed to remain at Barça beyond this season but the defender, despite being only 26, has become a priority for the Barça money men due to his ongoing injury issues. Umtiti was signed from Lyon in 2016 for a fee of €25m and in his first two seasons managed 83 appearances in all competitions. However, a recurring knee injury reduced him to 15 apperances in 2018-19 and 16 so far this season

Umtiti's knee a sticking point for buyers 

Umtiti signed a five-year deal in 2018 as the result of his first two seasons at Camp Nou, with a minimum release clause set at €500m. Barça will be willing to consider considerably less than that - simply recouping their initial outlay will be a decent bit of business - and face a challenge to find a buyer for the France international. Several clubs including Arsenal have inquired about his availability but all have made the same demand before making their interest concrete: an exhaustive medical examination of his troublesome knee. 

Umititi elected not to have surgery on the cartilage problem after the 2018 World Cup, preferring instead to trust rehab work. This season he has clearly been less hindered by his knee but every month it is necessary to drain synovial fluid from from the affected area to prevent it becoming inflamed and this is a cause of concern for potential suitors. Adding to Barça's conundrum is the fact that Umtiti doesn't want to leave Camp Nou despite losing his starting place alongside Gerard Piqué to Clément Lenglet. 

Working in Umtiti's favour is his resurgence under Quique Setién. Before the arrival of the new manager in January he had only played eight times out of a possible 26 fixtures with Ernesto Valverde at the helm but with the arrival of Setién he has been involved in eight of 12, starting against Real Madrid and Napoli. 

If the LaLiga season concludes and Umtiti proves his knee is in shape, he will be an attractive proposition for many European clubs but it all hinges on that all-important medical all-clear.