Barcelona’s search for a central defender has led them to Lyon, where they have agreed a deal to sign French international Samuel Umtiti.
The deal worth €30m was confirmed today by the French side’s president Jean-Michel Aulas, who told radio station RMC Sport that while they did not want to lose the 22 year old, they could not stand in the way of his career progression either.
Aulas said (in quotes carried by the Guardian):
“We anticipate the eventual departure of Umtiti. Samuel has an exclusive agreement for him to join Barcelona,
“We made a promise that if he could play for the club of his heart, he would leave. It’s part of the commitment which we have made, as was done for Karim Benzema when he went to Real Madrid.
“Right now, Samuel is with Les Bleus and is focussed on the Euro and the fact that he can play Sunday against Iceland.
“If the three parties agree, it is possible that he will leave us.”
The young defender has risen to prominence in recent seasons as a number of clubs across Europe have taken an interest in him. His goal for Lyon against Tottenham in a Europa League tie in 2013 made many people sit up and take notice. Indeed, Tottenham were one of the clubs thought to be interested in signing him this summer.
Barcelona are light on defensive options at the minute – Marc Bartra was allowed to leave for Dortmund and former Arsenal defender Thomas Vermaelen is set to follow him out the Camp Nou exit door – and having become frustrated in their efforts to sign Paris Saint-Germain defender Marquinhos, they have turned to Umtiti.
Umtiti is currently pat of the French squad at Euro 2016, and although is yet to win a senior cap for Les Bleus, he is in line to start alongside Laurent Koscielny in France’s quarter final tie against Iceland at the Stade de France this Sunday.