Who’d have thought it?!
With a handful of games to go in the 2018/19 La Liga season, teams are already jostling for position in terms of transfer dealings and one of the most surprising rumours surrounds Samuel Umtiti.
The World Cup winner, arguably one of the best central defenders in the world, could be on his way out of Barcelona thanks to the form of Clement Lenglet.Let’s be honest, after Lenglet and his Sevilla side were thumped 5-0 in last season’s Copa del Rey final, when the news broke that the Catalans had secured his services, it was thought that he would be nothing more than back-up for his countryman.
Of course, things don’t always end up as you plan them, and a niggling knee injury has seriously disrupted Umtiti‘s season.
Not only that, but a reticence to have it fully dealt with by the club’s medical staff has, allegedly, upset the powers that be at the Camp Nou.
Add into the mix that Barca need funds in order to secure Matthijs De Ligt from Ajax and the thought that ‘Big Sam’ might depart the Blaugrana in the summer – unthinkable just a few months ago – is a genuine possibility.
That’s because Lenglet has been nothing short of sensational.
Thrust into the breach earlier than perhaps he expected, the youngster has been calmness personified for the most part.
There are still a couple of elements to his game that need work, but he’s more than deserved his place in the side.
What’s also been good to see is Ernesto Valverde not just playing the big names for the sake of it. So many coaches often say in press conferences that they pick the team based on merit, but in the main that’s just lip service. When it comes down to it, the same staff are always chosen.
Lenglet has forced the Basque to do otherwise and you’ll not find a single supporter who’ll disagree with the decision to keep him in the starting XI at Umtiti’s expense.
With Barca still alive in all three competitions this season, there will surely be a need for the coach to switch things around at some point, and he can at least be safe in the knowledge that he has two outstanding Frenchman to help his side achieve their defensive goals.
Thereafter, the club have a huge decision to make. Selling Umtiti will bring Barca at least €60 million. With Manchester United and others known to be interested, that’s a pretty penny to turn down, especially when you know that the centre of defence is still in safe hands…