It wasn’t that long ago that Samuel Umtiti was a fixture in Barcelona’s back four. An untouchable player and one of the first on the team sheet.
He’d taken to La Liga effortlessly and, considering how prices for players have sky-rocketed, at just €25m, he looked like an absolute bargain.
His skillset also complemented that of Gerard Pique perfectly, and there were never any question marks over his starting spot in the team.
In the space of a year, all that has changed.A knee problem that just won’t go away has proved problematic for the Frenchman, but rather than having it dealt with as most of the players do and head straight to the preferred hospital, Umtiti took it upon himself to go down a more holistic route.
Not having an operation on it hasn’t had the desired effect, and it’s entirely fair to say that such a course of action didn’t go down too well with the powers that be at the club.
In the meantime, his international colleague, Clement Lenglet, signed from Sevilla arguably as cover, has cemented himself as Pique’s preferred partner, and there’s no reason to think Umtiti will get his place back anytime soon, unless Lenglet gets injured himself.
With Barcelona evidently looking to bring in other players, Umtiti can now consider himself one of the expendables.
That he has no intention of leaving the Catalans isn’t really a discussion point at this stage. If the status quo remains the same until January, that there’s an expectation that Barcelona will listen to offers for him.
Though they missed out on Matthijs De Ligt, the Blaugrana still have Jean-Clair Todibo in situ, and can begin to look at their academy for high quality youngsters that can make the jump up to the first team.
It really is a long way back for Umtiti and his purpose may be better served away from the Camp Nou.
With Euro 2020 on the horizon, he needs to be getting games under his belt to ensure that Didier Deschamps will have him as part of the French squad hoping to go one better than being a losing finalist in the last European Championship.
His cause hasn’t been helped by getting a bruised foot whilst on international duty, and Barcelona aren’t even putting a date on his expected return.
It’s just another twist in the story for a player who had so much to offer but now finds himself wondering when he’ll next get a decent amount of minutes at club level.