squad | 2018-06-07
Barcelona Signs Samuel Umtiti To New Deal
The centre back finally renewed after months of uncertainty
FC Barcelona has agreed to a new five-year contract extension with French centre-half Samuel Umtiti, per an announcement by the club late last week. The new deal will keep the 24-year old footballer with Barcelona through the 2022-2023 season.
Since arriving from Lyon via a €25m transfer fee two years ago, Umtiti has paired with Gerard Pique to form a strong partnership that's the backbone of Barca's defense. Umtiti had told the press that he had every intention of re-upping with Barca, and said the club allowed him to fulfill his dream of donning their uniform and playing alongside guys like Lionel Messi (whom he named specifically). Thus, it wasn't any surprise that the deal appeared to be smooth sailing, especially after Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu also publicly expressed his desire and his confidence to keep Umtiti around.
However, there was some concern that other teams could try to poach Umtiti's services from Barca. Because his release clause was set at a relatively palatable £50M early on, that appeared to be a price some team might be willing to pay to acquire him. For instance, with Jose Mourinho looking to revamp the Manchester United defense, Umtiti's name kept coming up in such efforts. But Barca clearly nipped any such attempts in the bud.
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Barca stands to gain plenty with Umtiti returning to the team as well. The team's win percentage suffers significantly when he's not in the lineup. Umtiti has played in 83 games across various competitions and matches, helping Barcelona win La Liga and the Copa del Rey (twice). Through the end of 2017, thanks to Umtiti's defense, the play of goaltender Marc-André ter Stegen, and the management of Ernesto Valverde, Barcelona had the fewest goals allowed of any team in Europe's top-five leagues.
Barca will ensure that Umtiti won't be leaving their lineup anytime soon. While it wasn't originally revealed, Bartomeu confirmed that Umtiti's transfer fee would be "significantly more," potentially as high as the €500M range.
The move appears to be the first of many in a busy summer. After signing said deal, Umtiti quickly returned back to his native country of France to rejoin the French team in preparations for the 2018 World Cup. Previously, he called a goal in France's 3-1 victory over Italy last week. The French team is very excited about what Umtiti can bring to the table, given his experiences with Barcelona, and given how he played in last year’s Euro semifinal against Germany.
Umtiti has been described by reporters as someone with superior vision of the pitch, with the ability to "(read) the game as if it was a children's book, timing his challenges to the millisecond and putting his body on the line in the name of a block." The same reporter went on to say that Umtiti's acquisition by Barcelona was the "Mona Lisa" of the team's slew of acquisitions in 2016.
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