Samuel Umtiti was once the solution to the defensive problems in FC Barcelona. But after three years of Umtiti’s transfer, he has become a burden on the team due to his repeated injury problems. However, this was not the case in the starting as he enjoyed a dream debut season winning the Laliga and Copa del Rey for FC Barcelona. He made attackers kneel; he was a beast at that backline.
During his second season, he was even considered the most reliable defender in the team even more than the experienced Gerard Pique. But now, Vidal seems more reliable than this Frenchman for Barca. How he transitioned from among the best to worse, all due to Injury.
UMTITI AT BARCELONA
Samuel Umtiti Joined FC Barcelona in 2016 for a fee of 25 million from Olympique Lyon. The French Defender quickly adjusted to the philosophy of FC Barcelona and displayed some brilliant performances in his debut season.
He used to anticipate the passes and make tackles to dispossess the opposition quickly, thus winning the team’s possession. It helped Barcelona to take control of the ball and retaining possession for a longer time. By the 2017-18 season, he became an essential part of the team and solved the defensive problems of the Club. Fans were convinced that he would be crucial for the FC Barcelona defense.
His anticipation and aggressiveness can be seen here –
Here we can see that Atletico Madrid is making a counter-attack, Umtiti anticipates it quickly and makes the run towards the forward before the ball reaches the attacker.
In the next moment, he makes the tackle before the attacker becomes comfortable on the ball, winning the team’s possession.
Here again, the opposite team was moving towards the goal, and the defenders were falling back to stop the counter suddenly Umtiti saw a chance to intercept the ball by going forward. He latches towards the ball and wins the possession.
Pique’s calmness and Umtiti’s aggresivenes made them the perfect partner for each other in defense.
As they say, “Everything Doesn’t last long.” Umtiti’s spectacular season of 2017/18 ended with a knee injury, with only a month remaining for the World Cup Umtiti risked his knee injury in order to participate in the tournament.
World Cup 2018
In the World cup 2018, Samuel Umtiti was a vital piece in Didier Deschamp’s formation. He started in all of France’s games in the world cup, and his header goal against Belgium in semi-finals secured their team’s place in the final. With over 34 clearances and 89.6% passing accuracy, he displayed his talent to the world as he was crucial for France in winning the World cup.
Injury, the Culprit
Although he helped win France their second World Cup, it deteriorated his knee problems. During the 2018/19 Season, his knee again got affected after the match against CD Leganes, which left him out for 43 days. He came back and played again in the away match against Atletico Madrid only to get injured again.
The Club suggested him to undergo knee surgery to prevent the risks of further damage to the body part, but he refused to go under the knife as it would have kept him away from football for 5-6 months. Instead, he chose to undergo conservative treatment in Qatar. This decision hasn’t turned too good for Umtiti as he has never fully recovered from that knee Injury and has been on the sidelines for most of the season.
His compatriot Clement Lenglet was signed from Sevilla as a backup to Samuel Umtiti in the 2018/19 season. But, due to Umtiti’s continuous relapses of injury, Clement Lenglet had to partner with Pique in defense. Lenglet stepped up for Barcelona and cemented his place in the team. This season Umtiti has only started in 14 games all season as he was either injured or was on the bench.
“I forced my knee during the World Cup, but now I am a World Champion, and you have to take some tough decisions in your life, I am not at all sorry I did it.”
With the arrival of Quique Setien as the coach of first team this season, Umtiti was given a chance to prove his worth as he was started ahead of Clement Lenglet in the most crucial game of the season, ‘The El Clasico,’ but he was a shadow of his former self as Barca lost the match 2-0. He was unable to anticipate the through balls, misplaced his tackles, and was slow to mark the forwards. Making matters worse, In late June this year, he again suffered a knock in his left knee, leaving him out for the rest of La Liga Season.
As the stats suggest, Umtiti In his first season was brilliant in almost all the stats and was miles ahead than any average centre back in terms of defending and passing.
Due to these traits, he was considered an elite defender, but comparing his stats with the season in 19/20, we can clearly see the drop in his performances in all aspects. His defending and heading skills have massively declined this season.
For Barca fans, signing Ter Stegen and Umtiti was the best thing that happened under Bartomeu back then. While Stegen is still showing his class but Umtiti has fallen apart so badly that it doesn’t seem like he will be back at his best ever again.
Future of Umtiti in Barcelona?
He is a beast in defense when fully fit, but injuries have affected his stay at the Blaugrana club. Due to his repeated injuries, he has managed to play only 18 matches in all competitions this season. The club and the fans want to see the old Umtiti back from whom the forwards were terrified. But seeing his recent performances, it seems highly unlikely to watch Umtiti at his prime again.
Moreover, Barca is trying to revitalize the defensive side; they are eyeing teenager Eric Gracia from Manchester City. With Araujo showing his quality and Pique and Lenglet being firm at their form, it’s unlikely Umtiti stands any chance in the current squad.
Now, due to financial vulnerability and the higher wage structure of FC Barcelona, it seems the management has run out of patience for Samuel Umtiti, leaving his future at Camp Nou in jeopardy. However, it is to be seen whether any club matches the asking price for Umtiti in these COVID tensions, or rather Umtiti remains at Barca for at least one more season.