Why Arsenal should go back in the market for Samuel Umtiti
According to claims from Spanish outlet Marca, as cited by ESPN, Barcelona are planning to offload centre-back Samuel Umtiti in the January transfer window, with the report suggesting that the La Liga giants are keen to balance their books by selling a few players.
Umtiti, who only managed 14 appearances for Barcelona in all competitions in the previous campaign, is yet to make a single appearance for the Catalans this term, with the French World Cup winner currently on the sidelines to nurse a foot injury.
The 25-year-old Cameroon-born centre-back featured as one of the mainstays of Barcelona’s backline in the La Liga in his first couple of seasons at the club but his career has been in a downward spiral ever since his World Cup triumph in Russia.
Recurrent injuries have prompted Ernesto Valverde to show more faith in the centre-back pairing of Clement Lenglet and Gerard Pique, thus leaving Umtiti to play second-fiddle. And, if the rumours are to believed, the Frenchman has been deemed surplus to requirements at Camp Nou.
Interestingly, if Barcelona do go ahead and place Umtiti on the transfer list ahead of the January window, Arsenal would be the biggest beneficiaries of such a situation.
The Gunners were heavily linked with a move for the powerful centre-back throughout the summer and, while a move never materialized, they might have a chance to go back in the market for his services. (h/t Express)
Umtiti was amongst a whole lot of central defenders linked with a move to the Emirates in the summer, with Arsenal moving heaven and earth in their pursuit of defensive reinforcements in order to shore up their leaky backline.
The Gunners eventually snapped up youngster William Saliba as a future prospect and loaned him back to his former club Saint-Etienne, while David Luiz came through the door as a surprise signing from London rivals Chelsea to answer the club’s prayers for a reliable centre-back.
Well, that gamble hasn’t really paid off and, to be honest, Arsenal’s backline hasn’t looked any better this season, even with David Luiz in the thick of things.
As a matter of fact, the Brazilian has proved himself to be somewhat of a liability for the Gunners at the back, with the veteran’s lapses in concentration costing the team dear on a number of occasions.
With Laurent Koscielny no longer at the club, Sokratis struggling every now and then, Mavropanos a regular on the treatment table, Mustafi simply a photocopy of Luiz and Holding yet to make a comeback from his long-term spell on the sidelines, Arsenal need to bring in a world-class centre-back to entertain any hopes of challenging for a Champions League spot.
To put things into perspective, Arsenal should look to capitalize if Barcelona decide to sell Samuel Umtiti in January, given that the Frenchman is currently one of the best centre-backs in the world and at 25, he is very much in his prime.
Yes, the Frenchman has had his fair share of troubles with injuries over the past twelve months or so but that can happen to even the best of players and one needs to take note of the fact that Umtiti made 83 appearances for Barcelona during his first two seasons at the club.
A strong and powerful defender who excels with his pace, physicality, composure and aerial ability, Umtiti is also very good with the ball at his feet and is right up there with the best when it comes to playing the ball out from the back.
Those attributes should make him a tailor-made fit for Unai Emery’s tactics and given his age, Arsenal can afford to look at the Frenchman as someone who could be the leader of their backline for the next four to five years or even beyond that.
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That said, it should be a no-brainer for the Gunners to revisit their interest in the out-of-favour Barcelona star.