If there is one area that Manchester United had faltered from the beginning of the season, it is the defence. The team have played carelessly at the back, leaked in goals and also displayed no intention of tightening things up, often frustrating the manager.
Their lowest point came in December against Burnley when the team conceded twice at Old Trafford. But since then, United have shown signs of resurgence and kept nine clean sheets in their last 11 matches across all competitions. Although their backline comprising of Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelof, Luke Shaw and Aaron Wan-Bissaka have improved things, that has not stopped United looking for a new defender, and they have shown interest in Samuel Umtiti, who is an outcast at Barcelona. Now Calciomercato states that Manchester United are in further luck as two of the other contenders, Napoli and Inter Milan have backed out of the race for the French defender.
The report says that while Napoli feel that the asking price for the defender is too high, Inter Milan have other priorities in the form of Marash Kumbulla from Hellas Verona. Barcelona value the centre back at €25-30 million and that would prove too much for Napoli, who are also in the market for a potential replacement of Kalidou Koulibaly.
The same report suggests that leaves the French powerhouse Paris Saint-Germain and the Premier League clubs like Arsenal and Chelsea as potential rivals of Manchester United in the race to sign Samuel Umtiti. The recent development could even make Barcelona reconsider the asking price for the World Cup winner and place United in a better place to negotiate.
Samuel Umtiti had joined the Spanish side from Lyon in 2016 with hopes of being the new pillar of defence of Barcelona. Although initially, his performances were decent, gradually with the signing of Clément Lenglet in 2018, he lost his place into the first team. In the last two seasons combined, Umtiti has played only 25 league matches for the club, certainly not a figure to boast about for a 26-year old. While injuries have played their part in reducing the defender’s gametime, he went down the pecking order rapidly as time went on.
Samuel Umtiti would be the perfect fit for Manchester United
Manchester United, on the other hand, have been cursed with injuries. While Eric Bailly has all the attributes to be a modern-day great, his time at United has been riddled with injuries. Even Luke Shaw has missed a large part of the season and United have had to manage with youngsters such as Brandon Williams. This is where Samuel Umtiti would be of great help to Ole Gunnar Solskjær as he can ply his trade in the left-back position as well.
However, the greatest value of the Barcelona defender is not because he can play in a makeshift left-back role. Instead, it is his prowess at centre-half that makes him such an attractive proposition for the Manchester giants. While Harry Maguire has nailed down one of the centre-half positions, the other one is still up for grabs. That is where Umtiti would be a perfect fit. Patient on the ball and adept at playing out from the back, he would be the ideal partner for Maguire.
Umtiti is not unknown to the secret of success playing for some of the best teams at club and country level, and now if Manchester United can pull off this transfer, it would be one of the success stories of the Norwegian manager.