Barcelona are reportedly getting ready to sign defender Samuel Umtiti to a new contract with a vastly higher buyout clause, avoiding transfer rumblings before the summer window opens.
French daily L'Equipe (via Metro's Coral Barry) previously reported Manchester City were eyeing the 24-year-old before they signed Aymeric Laporte, and there have been plenty of other rumours as well, courtesy of his current clause of just €60 million.
According to Sport's Lluis Miguelsanz, the Catalans want to add two years to his current deal and push the clause beyond €200 million. The contract should be signed in June, rather than later in the summer.
Umtiti moved to Spain in 2016, and at the time, his buyout clause―and transfer fee―were seen as more than reasonable, per football writer Samuel Marsden:
But the transfer market has exploded since then, with the likes of Virgil van Dijk and Aymeric Laporte moving to Liverpool and Manchester City, respectively, for huge fees. All of a sudden, €60 million for a player like Umtiti seems a bargain.
The France international has easily been Barcelona's best defender this season, and with Javier Mascherano departing the club in January, he becomes even more important for the Blaugrana.
Fans have urged the club to do what they can to keep him in Catalonia for as long as possible:
A transfer seems unlikely at this point, as Umtiti has given no indication he wants to leave the club, and Barcelona are expected to greatly improve his contract. City make for an attractive destination, but with Laporte in the fold, they're not going to be spending the same kind of money on another defender soon.
It will all depend on the new contract, however. While City may have taken care of their defensive needs, there are several other clubs who would gladly spend €60 million on an elite defender who is yet to hit his prime, and they could prepare similar―or even better―contracts.
Getting the deal done before the summer―and, ideally, before Umtiti has to shift his focus to the 2018 FIFA World Cup―will be vital, and there's plenty of time left for the Blaugrana to get to work. The club just got Gerard Pique's new contract out of the way, and Umtiti should be next.