Ronald Koeman has admitted that Samuel Umtiti is not part of his plans after the Barcelona man was linked with a move to Premier League side Everton this week, while speaking to Goal.
The look on Umtiti’s face said more than words ever could.
The World Cup winner stormed down the tunnel and refused to resurface even as Barcelona celebrated the first piece of silverware of the new campaign – well, if you can call the annual Joan Gamper trophy ‘silverware’, that is.
And Umtiti’s fury was understandable.
He had spent most the afternoon being subjected to vicious boos from his own ‘supporters’, a bristling Barca fanbase taking their frustration out on a man who has refused to let the cash-strapped Catalans terminate the final two years of his £200,000-a-week contract (Goal).
Umtiti’s stubbornness, some felt, was part of the reason why Barcelona were unable to raise enough funds to keep Lionel Messi at the Camp Nou.
Clearly, the Barca fans want him out.
So, too, does Ronald Koeman, leaving the £24 million France international off the team sheet for this weekend’s La Liga clash with Athletic Bilbao.
Has Samuel Umtiti played his final game for Barcelona?
“There are players like (Miralem) Pjanic or Umtiti who don’t have minutes and they know they have a difficult situation at Barcelona,” Koeman said.
Umtiti has been linked, on and off, with the likes of Liverpool and Arsenal in recent months, with speculation now suggesting that the former Lyon man could be offered a fresh start by Koeman’s old employers.
The Mirror (19 August, page 54) claim that Everton are looking into a deal, with confidence growing that Rafa Benitez could lure the talented centre-back away from the Spanish giants.
Everton have certainly enjoyed relative success when signing Barca players in the past, with Lucas Digne, Andre Gomes and Yerry Mina rebuilding their reputations at Goodison Park.
Umtiti’s injury-record, however, will raise plenty of questions. Is this really a risk worth taking?