As per a report from Spanish outlet Diario Gol this afternoon, Real Madrid have emerged as surprise contenders in the race for unsettled Barcelona defender Samuel Umtiti.
Umtiti, a 24-year-old central defender, made the move to the Camp Nou from Lyon in the summer of 2016 for a fee of 25 million Euro.
The powerful stopper arrived in Catalonia with hefty expectations on his young shoulders, with Barca having long been on the lookout for a dependable central-defensive partner for Gerard Pique.
However, he was regularly singled out for criticism during his debut campaign with the club, as Luis Enrique’s men struggled defensively, particularly in Europe.
This season has seen Umtiti begin to prove just why he was so highly-regarded in France, though, with the Lyon youth product having strung together a number of absolutely dominant performances at the back for Ernesto Valverde’s men.
Umtiti proved a key factor in Barca conceding just four goals in their opening eleven La Liga fixtures to start the campaign, allowing the club to open up a massive lead over fierce rivals Real Madrid in the Spanish top-flight.
The talented Blaugrana man has also established himself as a regular in Didier Deschamps’ French international setup, with Umtiti’s partnership alongside Raphael Varane looking like the base upon which Les Bleus’ sides will be built for the coming decade.
Unsurprisingly, Umtiti’s stellar form at the Camp Nou has led to inevitable links with a number of European football’s other giants, with Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea previously named as huge admirers.
A report from Sport earlier this week claimed that Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho had made personal contact with Umtiti regarding a move to Old Trafford, with the Portuguese tactician having informed Umtiti that the Red Devils are willing to offer him a 9 million Euro-per-season salary, the exact figure that the 15-time capped French international is said to be seeking at the Camp Nou.
Reports in Spain are beginning to mount that Barca are not willing to offer Umtiti such a hefty wage packet as part of a new deal at the club, with negotiations between the parties ‘not going well’.
And, as per the aforementioned report from Diario Gol today, Umtiti’s growing frustration with his situation in Catalonia has now alerted Barca’s fierce rivals Real Madrid, who have reportedly been following the Frenchman since his days with Lyon.
However, while there may be a genuine glimmer of hope for some clubs in their chase of Umtiti, a transfer to the Bernabeu, for obvious reasons, looks extremely unlikely.