Samuel Umtiti’s name was recently mentioned in a number of reports as being on the list of left-footed center backs Barcelona is keeping an eye on.
Today, let’s talk about the possibility of the Frenchman making a comeback to Barcelona’s first team.
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Why Barcelona needs a left-footed CB?
Despite the impressive work our “BACK” four have done this season, Xavi and co are still interested in strengthening Barcelona’s defense. If we take a glance at our Center Back options the only left-footed one is Alonso, who is primarily a left back.
|Ronald Araujo||Right||23 yrs.|
|Jules Kounde||Right||24 yrs.|
|Andres Christensen||Right||26 yrs.|
|Eric García||Right||22 yrs.|
|Marcos Alonso||Left||32 yrs.|
Taking that into account, Barcelona might be thinking that addition of a in-form left-footed center back will enhance the depth of our defensive setup even more.
Rise and Downfall of Umtiti
Umtiti first joined Barcelona at the summer of 2016 from Lyon for a transfer fee of €25m. His market value was only €15 million when he came, and over the next two years, he kept rising to a pinnacle of €70 million.
With Gerard Pique as his teammate, he established a rock-solid back line in just his first season. He made much more progress in 2017/18, emerging as one of top European defenders. As a consequence, Barcelona went on to win a domestic double.. Life was all roses for both Umtiti and Barcelona.
Umtiti’s upsurge urged Valverde to play him more frequently than before. And it eventually came back to bite us. Injury hiccups in his second season resulted in a total of 12 games missed. Then came the world cup and our beloved French warrior decided to play despite not being fully fit. He ended up winning the world cup but in return he lost his physique.
Ever since then regular injuries affected his career and gradually he lost his form. Umtiti’s market value dropped in no time from €70 million to €2 million. His admirers, who had previously used to chant his name, began to jeer him, which prompted to a loan move to Lecce in the summer of 2022.
Loan Spell at Lecce
Umtiti was greeted warmly upon his arrival in Italy. When he first spoke to Lecce fans, he became emotional and almost broke down in tears. However, Umtiti had to wait for some time for his first minute.
In the game against Roma, Umtiti made his Lecce debut on October 10, 2022. Though Mourinho’s side won the game 2-1, it was a fine performance from the Frenchman. His ball movements were excellent, and he had an 85% passing accuracy. He also won 4/6 ground duels and 2/2 aerial duels.
So far, he has played twelve out of the twenty two Serie A games this season, starting in eleven of them. Here’s a brief statistical analysis on his current season compared to other Serie A center backs.
|Stat||Per 90mins.||+ or –|
+ or – column refers how below par or above par Umtiti is, compared to the average mark of other Serie A Center Backs in 2022/23.
As we can see it is obvious that Umtiti is gaining some form compared to his past two seasons at Barcelona. However, the 28 year old still has lot to improve in defensive terms, if he’s eyeing for an contract at a top club.
Umtiti is not the only left-footed center back, that Barcelona are interested in. The list extends with Inigo Martinez, the Athletic Bilbao’s veteran Center Back and the promising youngster from Eintracht Frankfurt, Evan Ndicka.
If Xavi is looking for a long term investment, then Ndicka obviously seems to be the ideal option but with FFP restrictions coming into action and the interest Ndicka has from Premier League’s big spenders might turn the move complicated.
|Player||Samuel Umtiti||Inigo Martinez||Evan Ndicka|
|Current Market Value||€2m||€18m||€32m|
|Other Interested Clubs||Olympiacos Piraeus||none||Olympique Marseille Newcastle United|
Umtiti has obviously regained his form at Lecce, but we believe he is still a bit below par to play for Barcelona. A club like Olympiacos, where he will confront less pressure than at Barcelona, will assist him in rebuilding his career.
When it comes to LaLiga and domestic competitions, Inigo is an expert. He appears to be a great asset to enhance our domestic success. However, on the other hand, he can be described as an injury prone. Inigo has missed 25 games due to eight injuries over the last three seasons. Throughout his career, he has been injured 25 times and has missed 66 games, averaging 5+ games missed per season.
The main issue in Ndicka’s case is our finances. If the club is able to overcome those obstacles, Ndicka would be the best option of the three listed, given that he is a long-term investment.
Will Umtiti regain his position at Barcelona? Or whom else will Barcelona sign?