May 21, 2020
Barcelona have reported made French central defender, Samuel Umtiti, a previous target for both Manchester United and Arsenal, available for just £27 million this summer, according to reports. Earlier this year, before the coronavirus pandemic, his valuation was £46 million, seeing a considerable drop by the Catalan club.
The La Liga giants financial situation has reportedly worsened, with every club around the world feeling the after effects of the pandemic, which could result in a sale of players who are considered not needed by the club, to balance the books so to speak. United have suffered too with a £28 million loss of their own because of the virus.
Spanish news source, Sport, has suggested the Catalan club will sell players this summer, some with reduced fees. It is thought that Barca want to use Umtiti to lower the fee paid to Inter Milan for forward target Lautaro Martinez, however, the Frenchman has not heard anything from the Serie A club, but has been told to expect contact.
This might be something that leave United and Arsenal high and dry, although the latter club seem to be more interested in Umtiti than United, as I think the Frenchman was a Jose Mourinho target, more than an Ole Gunnar Solskjaer target. United may need to new defender this summer though, especially if some of them leave the club.
It is expected that Chris Smalling will leave, as could Marcus Rojo and Phil Jones, who has been sparingly utilised so far this season. Saying that though, departures would create space for Axel Tuanzebe, who has spent his first season back at the club after a period of loan spells and Teden Mengi, who has been tipped to make his rise to the first team soon.
Solskjaer would probably be a fan of the latter option as the Norwegian manager wants to trust youth more, which is the road to success that Sir Alex Ferguson found and Solskjaer was a fan of his methods. Umtiti has been sidelined with a calf injury but has suffered many injuries at the Catalan club, making him seem injury prone – something United would not want.
Umtiti has made just 16 appearances for Barca this season, before the coronavirus pandemic suspended world football. For a 26-year-old France international, injury aside, I would expect him to play a lot more for the club. The player will be seeking a prominent role under new manager Quique Setien, who took over the club in January.
However, as he has been injured more often than not in his career at the Catalan club, especially this season, it could leave him with a lot of work to do in order to play himself into his manager’s plans for the remainder of the season, and into the future, if he does remain at the club past this summer, whenever the transfer window opens and closes.
My personal opinion is that United could do a lot better than spend dead money on Umtiti. A few years ago the player showed a lot of promise, but now, he has a lot to prove, which could go against him. I would much rather see Solskjaer trim the squad and give chances to youth players, Tuanzebe first and maybe Mengi, if he is needed in the squad.