Arsenal and Manchester United are reportedly considering offering Barcelona outcast Samuel Umtiti a way out of Camp Nou in the ongoing transfer window.
According to a report from Spanish outlet El Gol Digital, Barcelona defender Samuel Umtiti could be handed an escape route from Camp Nou this summer by Premier League bigwigs Arsenal and Manchester United.
Signed in the summer of 2016 from Lyon, Umtiti became a big hit at Barcelona in his debut season. However, since then, it has been downhill for the Frenchman as he has constantly struggled with troublesome knee injuries, which has seen him drop down the pecking order quite a bit.
Umtiti featured just 16 times in all competitions last season, with manager Ronald Koeman favouring youngsters like Ronald Araujo and Oscar Mingueza over him to partner Gerard Pique or Clement Lenglet. Given his standing at the club, the Blaugrana were hoping to offload him last summer itself but were not able to. But they are now desperate to get him off the books due to their wage-bill issues.
To that end, Barcelona had given Umtiti an offer of mutual contract termination with a severance package, only to see it being turned down by the 2018 FIFA World Cup winner. However, there may be some light at the end of the tunnel for the Catalan giants as Arsenal and Manchester United are now mulling over the possibility of swooping in for the Frenchman.
Arsenal are in the market for a new central defender this summer after having decided not to extend the contract of David Luiz while William Saliba departs on yet another loan spell. To that end, the Gunners are said to be closing in on the signing of Ben White from Brighton & Hove Albion.
So, their reported interest in Umtiti does come out as a bit puzzling, given his injury history and the fact that they have two left-footed centre-backs in Pablo Mari and Gabriel Magalhaes already. As for Manchester United, it is no secret that they, too, are scouring for reinforcements at the back as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer looks for the ideal long-term partner for captain Harry Maguire.
A move for Real Madrid star Raphael Varane is believed to be in the advanced stages, but another centre-back may well be required at Old Trafford considering that Phil Jones does not have a future at the club while Axel Tuanzebe is being linked with a loan switch away. In addition, Eric Bailly is also courting interest from former club Villarreal, with Manchester United open to a sale.
Umtiti, to that end, could be seen as someone to add more depth to the squad while also adding that left-footed centre-half option, something that Manchester United currently lack. However, his recent fitness woes do make him a bit of a risky option for Solskjaer & co.
Umtiti, for his part, is now willing to consider an exit but wants to join a team where he can be a regular and challenge for trophies. This gives Manchester United an advantage over Arsenal as they finished runners-up in the Premier League last term and will be participating in the Champions League, whereas the Gunners will not be playing in Europe.