Arsenal are reportedly leading the race to sign Barcelona defender and World Cup winner Samuel Umtiti in the summer transfer window.
As per a report from Italian outlet TuttoMercatoWeb, Premier League giants Arsenal are the front-runners to land Barcelona superstar Samuel Umtiti in the summer, as they look to bolster their defensive ranks ahead of the next season.
Umtiti has established himself as one of the finest centre-backs across Europe since joining Barcelona from Olympique Lyon back in 2016. The defender has won a La Liga title and two Copa del Rey trophies during his time with the Catalans, but the 2018-19 campaign has been a difficult one for him.
Umtiti, after a successful summer with France when he won the 2018 FIFA World Cup, has struggled with injuries throughout the season, leading to him spending more time on the treatment tables than on the pitch. So far, the 25-year-old has featured only 12 times in all competitions for Barcelona and has looked rusty since returning from injury.
With Clement Lenglet firmly establishing himself as the first-choice defender alongside Gerard Pique and with the Catalan outfit intently pursuing the signing of Ajax captain Matthijs de Ligt, Umtiti’s future at Barcelona is under a cloud of doubt.
The 25-year-old’s potential availability in the summer has sparked a flurry of interest in signing him, with Manchester United emerging as potential suitors for the Frenchman, while their arch-rivals Arsenal also have reportedly joined the Red Devils in the pursuit.
Now, as per the latest report, the Gunners are in the driver’s seat to sign Umtiti from Barcelona in the summer transfer window as Manchester United seem to have turned their attention towards AS Roma’s Greek centre-half Kostas Manolas.
Arsenal have a number of options in defence with captain Laurent Koscielny, summer signing Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Shkodran Mustafi, Rob Holding, Konstantinos Mavropanos and Nacho Monreal as well, while Calum Chambers will also be returning at the end of the season after his loan deal with Fulham expires.
However, Koscielny’s injury woes are well-documented, while Mustafi has time and again shown that he cannot be considered a reliable figure with his error-prone nature. Add to that, Monreal’s expiring contract at the end of the season means the Gunners could definitely use a quality addition to their defence ahead of the next season.
And Umtiti, with his experience of playing for a top club, will provide just that. Moreover, given that he is just 25 years old, the Frenchman could go on to establish himself as Arsenal’s defensive leader for years to come.
Umtiti, who is contracted with Barcelona till the summer of 2018, is unlikely to come on the cheap, which could be a problem given the Gunners’ financial constraints. However, should they qualify for the Champions League next season, additional budget would be sanctioned, making it possible for them to sign him up.