Manchester City have presented their ambitious project to Barcelona centre-back Samuel Umtiti and are prepared to trigger the player’s release clause in January, French newspaper L’Equipe reports today.
The 24-year-old has been Barcelona’s best defender this season and his €60million (£53million) release clause is said to have wealthy European rivals interested.
Barcelona hope to extend the Frenchman’s contract with an improved release clause, but the player is reported to have asked for time to think about City’s pitch.
A cynic would note previous examples of alleged City interest has been used to get a Barça player an improved deal, with Lionel Messi and Ivan Rakitic two examples.
Even so, Umtiti has all the characteristics required to play in a Pep Guardiola defence, and if he was to show any interest in a move, £53million would appear quite a bargain in a market where Virgil van Dijk has just moved for a eye-watering £75million.
Another La Liga defender, Iñigo Martínez of Real Sociedad, is perhaps a more realistic January option, with the player available for his £28million release clause and likely to be more receptive to a move mid-season. A deal for Umtiti would cup-tie him from the Champions League, something he’d surely not be too thrilled about.