Turkish giants Fenerbahce have reportedly set their sights on Barcelona defender Samuel Umtiti over a move in January.

According to a report by Spanish publication SPORT, Samuel Umtiti is the subject of interest from Fenerbahce. In the January transfer window, the Turkish giants want to prise the out-of-favour French defender away from Barcelona.

Samuel Umtiti joined Barcelona from Lyon in July 2016 and made an immediate impression at the club. However, after a bright start to life as a Barcelona player, the 28-year-old’s fortunes have dwindled considerably, with a spate of injuries reducing him to a shell of a domineering defender he once was.

Indeed, Umtiti was once regarded as one of the best defenders in Europe while also being a part of France’s 2018 FIFA World Cup-winning squad. However, the past year has been a nightmare for the French defender. That is because he has fallen to the very bottom of the pecking order for centre-backs, as illustrated by his solitary outing for Barcelona this season.

While Umtiti has insisted that he wants to fight for his place in the Barcelona squad and is still keen on succeeding at the club, Xavi Hernandez and Joan Laporta do not seem to agree. As a result, the player has been deemed surplus to requirements by Barcelona, who are desperately seeking a suitor for him.

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While interested parties have not necessarily been forthcoming, recent reports have linked Umtiti with Newcastle United, AC Milan and Benfica. Now, another club has joined the race to sign the 28-year-old from Barcelona, with Fenerbahce keen on securing his services in January.

The interest from the Turkish giants is understandable, considering Attila Szalai is the subject of interest from several European bigwigs, including Barcelona. The Hungarian defender’s departure will prompt Fenerbahce to enter the market for a centre-back, with Umtiti a viable target to that end.

The Frenchman has insisted that he has been working hard on his fitness, although he has not received an opportunity to prove it this season. While his fitness record makes his signing a gamble, the Turkish giants seem to be keen on signing him this winter. For their part, Barcelona will be eager to get Umtiti’s high wages off their books, and it remains to be seen if he joins Fenerbahce in January.

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