2018 World cup winner with France, Samuel Umtiti has rubbished reports hinting that he had contact with Arsenal over the summer and was a possible bargaining chip in Barcelona’s bid to bring Neymar back to the club from Paris Saint-Germain.
Transfer talk raged around the World Cup winner for much of the last transfer window. It was hinted, having moved down the pecking order at Camp Nou, that the 25-year-old France international could be on the move. A move to the Premier League was mooted, with Arsenal said to be leading the chase for a proven performer at the very highest level.
Umtiti, though, claims that a new challenge at Emirates Stadium is not something that he ever considered.
“Honestly, I don’t know where this rumour with Arsenal came from. Overnight, I received messages from my friends ‘ah, so you are joining Arsenal?’ I’m not, I’m sorry but I’m staying at Barcelona,” he told Canal Football Club.
“Contacts with Arsenal? To be honest, I don’t know if they had conversations with my agent, I just told him that I didn’t care what was happening this summer and that it wasn’t even necessary to talk to me about it. It was useless, I was going to have the same answer. My dream as a child is to play for Barcelona. Last season was the most difficult of my career, especially in terms of injuries.”
Umtiti was limited to just 14 appearances across all competitions in 2018-19. A series of niggling knocks prevented him making the impact he had been looking for, with another injury having ruled him out of the latest France squad.
With Barca forced into favouring other options, Umtiti was billed as one of those who could be used as a makeweight in Barcelona’s efforts to prise Neymar away from Paris Saint-Germain. The deadline passed with no deal done there and Umtiti is adamant that he was never close to heading back to his homeland.
He added: “Exchange coin for Neymar? It’s crazy. It made me laugh, I don’t even have an answer to where it comes from.”
Gerard Pique and Clement Lenglet have become the go-to centre-half partnership for Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde, but Umtiti will be given a chance to compete for more regular game time in 2019-20.