Samuel Umtiti is going to have ‘conservative’ treatment on his persistent knee problems in a bid to cure them, rather than resorting to surgery.
The Barcelona centre-back has clearly been short of his best this season, and one can deduce that it’s due in no small part to those ongoing issues.
To that end, it’s surprising that the French World Cup winner, when the problem first became apparent, didn’t immediately go under the knife and ensure the problem was resolved once and for all.
Had that happened, then Barcelona might’ve looked at having the player back by March at the latest, and ready for arguably the busiest and most important period of the season.
A few weeks off – without surgery it must be said – hasn’t cured the problem, and even after being back for just one game before breaking down again hasn’t been enough to get the centre-back into the operating theatre.
Instead, Umtiti will head to Doha for a few weeks and hope that the conservative treatment that’s planned gets to the root of the problem and, ultimately, eradicates it.
Barcelona will run a series of tests on him in the early part of January, and this will determine whether an operation is the only course of action left open to him.
Assuming that is the case, it’s then highly likely that he will miss the remainder of the campaign.
If Barca get into the latter stages of the Champions League and Copa del Rey, as well as still challenging in the league, they’d have to do so without one of their first-choice defenders.
Though no one is suggesting that Clement Lenglet isn’t an able replacement, there’s a reason why it’s Umtiti that’s handed the jersey each week.
Such selfishness from him, in putting his needs before that of his club, could disrupt their drive for success.
It’s just as surprising that Barcelona themselves are seemingly happy to allow Umtiti to take this approach, when the benefits of having surgery are obvious.
With a move for Ajax’s De Ligt not happening until summer 2019 at the earliest, Eric Abidal and the rest of the technical department are now tasked with potentially finding a replacement with a specific brief.
An experienced defender, who has Champions League experience and who is available for the rest of the campaign.
A loan move appears the most likely but the amount of candidates that fall into that bracket aren’t many. Further, a mid-season signing in such a key area of the team could imbalance the back four.
Worse still, Umtiti and the club decide that they think he can get through the season unscathed and then he breaks down again.
The raft of scenarios needn’t have occurred if only Umtiti had listened to what his body was telling him in the first place.
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