Barcelona's Samuel Umtiti Says Summer Links to Arsenal Were 'Useless'

Rory Marsden@@roomarsdenFeatured ColumnistSeptember 9, 2019

BARCELONA, SPAIN - AUGUST 04: Samuel Umtiti of FC Barcelona during the pre match warm up prior the Joan Gamper Trophy match between FC Barcelona and Arsenal at Nou Camp on August 04, 2019 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)
Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Samuel Umtiti has said he does not know where rumours linking him with a move to Arsenal this summer came from as he had no contact with the Premier League club. 

The centre-back was reportedly a key Gunners target, and he was said to be "at least willing to look at the possibility of deals" after losing his starting place at Barcelona to Clement Lenglet, per The Independent's Miguel Delaney.

Barca were also reported to be open to selling the Frenchman in order to raise money to buy Ajax's Matthijs de Ligt, who eventually joined Juventus

Umtiti has now said, though, that he never had any intention of leaving Barcelona to join Arsenal or any other club, per Canal Football Club (h/t Goal's Chris Burton):

"Honestly, I don't know where this rumour with Arsenal came from. Overnight, I received messages from my friends 'ah, so you are joining Arsenal?' I'm not, I'm sorry but I'm staying at Barcelona. Contacts with Arsenal? To be honest, I don't know if they had conversations with my agent, I just told him that I didn't care what was happening this summer and that it wasn't even necessary to talk to me about it. 

"It was useless, I was going to have the same answer. My dream as a child is to play for Barcelona. Last season was the most difficult of my career, especially in terms of injuries."

Umtiti, 25, joined Barca from Lyon in 2016. In his first two seasons at the Camp Nou he established himself as a key player for the club and as Gerard Pique's best centre-back partner.

However, last season a knee injury kept him sidelined for around four months, and he made only 13 starts in La Liga.

In his absence, Lenglet formed a fine partnership with Pique, and the 24-year-old has kept Umtiti out of the Barca side for the first three games of 2019-20.

Umtiti is now injured again, although he will hope it is not serious:

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Samuel Umtiti has withdrawn from the France squad with a swollen right foot - nobody will be called up to replace him.

It is, though, a blow to his efforts to get back in the Barcelona side on a permanent basis.

Despite his fitness issues and the emergence of Lenglet, Umtiti still surely has a bright future at Barca, and it is no surprise he opted to stay put at the Spanish champions.

He is a superb back-up for Lenglet and Pique in Ernesto Valverde's squad.

And Spaniard Pique will turn 33 during the course of this season. He cannot continue to play every Barca game, and Umtiti is a ready-made replacement for him.