Arsenal are reportedly expected to miss out on the services of Barcelona superstar Samuel Umtiti, who is only likely to join former club Lyon.
According to a report by French publication L’Equipe, Arsenal have been dealt a major blow in their hopes of signing Samuel Umtiti. The Barcelona defender will only consider a return to Lyon, should he choose to call it quits at Camp Nou.
Umtiti joined Barcelona from boyhood club Lyon in the summer of 2016 and was an instant success at Camp Nou. Regarded as one of the most promising defenders in the world when Barcelona signed him, the French defender took little time to settle in at the Catalan club.
However, his progress has often been curtailed by a spate of injuries over the last three years, with the fitness troubles also affecting his status in Barcelona’s first-team setup. The impressive Clement Lenglet might have usurped him, but Umtiti’s stock remains high, with Arsenal being heavily linked with him.
The Gunners hold a long-standing interest in Umtiti, having also been on his tails in the summer transfer window. A move eventually failed to materialise, with Arsenal signing William Saliba and David Luiz instead. Saliba, though, will only make his Arsenal debut next season at the earliest after being sent back to Saint-Etienne on loan upon joining the North Londoners.
Luiz, on the other hand, has failed to improve Arsenal’s fortunes at the back, with the Premier League heavyweights just as vulnerable defensively as they were before the Brazilian arrived at Emirates.
Sokratis has not fared any better either, leaving the under-pressure Unai Emery with Calum Chambers, Rob Holding and Konstantinos Mavropanos as his remaining central defensive options. Holding has offered a lot of promise, but is making a gradual return from a long-term injury, while Chambers and Mavropanos have not done much to command a regular spot at Arsenal.
Umtiti is, thus, a viable target for Arsenal, who could have a genuinely world class defender at their disposal should they be able to sign him. But, that particular eventuality might just be a long shot, as Umtiti would only prefer moving back to Lyon if he left Barcelona.
The 26-year-old has admitted to the same in an interview with Sport, confirming that he would like to return to Lyon in the future. Umtiti, though, also iterated that he is content at Barcelona, thereby ruling Arsenal out as a possible destination altogether.
The Gunners will, therefore, have to set their sights elsewhere in search of defensive reinforcements. It remains to be seen if they can bolster their backline with a solid central defender, with the pursuit of Barcelona superstar Umtiti as good as over.