According to reports from Italian outlet Calciomercato, via the Mirror, Arsenal are looking to sign Barcelona centre-back Samuel Umtiti and are preparing a €50m bid for him.
Arsenal’s defensive woes are not new, and they have conceded 51 goals in the Premier League last season, which is the ninth best defensive record in the league. They have also kept only 8 clean sheets – only seven teams have kept fewer clean sheets.
Arsenal are also not helped by the question marks surrounding the futures of Laurent Koscielny, Shokdran Mustafi, and Nacho Monreal.
With these things in mind, Unai Emery has been looking into the market for defensive additions for a long time. As per the latest reports, he has targeted Umtiti as the answer to their defensive frailties.
Umtiti, who won the World Cup with France last year, was restricted to just 15 appearances for Barcelona last season, due to a nasty knee injury which kept him out of action for a long time. During that phase, Clement Lenglet rose up to the occasion and formed a strong partnership with Gerard Pique at the back, thus rising above Umtiti in the pecking order. His future has also been put in serious doubt over the possible signing of other defenders, like Matthijs de Ligt.
This has made Arsenal believe that they can price away the defender from the Catalan club. However, this transfer looks highly unlikely for two reasons.
Firstly, Calciomercato, via Don Balon, claims that Barcelona are asking for €80m for the defender, and Arsenal’s rumoured €50m bid doesn’t come close to it. The Mirror have also extensively reported that Arsenal have a budget of just £40m, and barring any player departures, Umtiti looks out of reach for the Gunners.
Secondly, Umtiti has himself expressed rubbished any rumours linking him to a move away from the Camp Nou.
Speaking to RTL France, Umtiti said:
“I have a contract, I feel happy in Barcelona. I had a complicated season, but I will still be at Barcelona next season.”
Again, when asked by Telefoot if he would be at Barcelona next season, Umtiti replied,
Despite his falling stock with Barcelona, Umtiti remains a world-class defender with a massive trophy cabinet. He has won several domestic awards with Barcelona and has won the World Cup with his national team, and this kind of winning experience is severely lacking in Arsenal.
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This rumour is one of the most improbable rumours to come out of this season’s transfer window, but we have seen enough from previous seasons to know that in football, we have to expect the unexpected.
If Unai Emery can pull off this signing, this will be a defining moment in this season’s transfer window, and Arsenal fans will surely have their fingers crossed.