Manchester United closing in on Barcelona defender ahead of summer transfer window

Manchester United are reportedly closing in on Barcelona central defender Samuel Umtiti ahead of the biggest transfer window for manager Jose Mourinho. Umtiti has been linked to United in the media for a number of months now, which seems to have been click bait. Recent reports from Catalan daily, Sport seem to add a little more to the rumours.

Umtiti has a buyout clause with is reportedly £52 million, which for an international seems to be a good fee, especially in the fact that Virgin van Dijk cost Liverpool £75 million during the January transfer window. Umtiti is not on the same level as Van Dijk yet though – but the fee is still a decent price for a player of his calibre.

It is reported that Barcelona see Umtiti as a crucial player to rejuvenate their starting XI heading into the future but the Catalan club is refusing to meet the player’s demands which would make his the club’s second-highest paid player, just behind Lionel Messi.

The 24-year-old wants to see himself earn the parity that the likes of Messi, Luis Suarez, and Andres Iniesta have at the club but the Barcelona board refuse to accept it at this time. It is reported that United are willing to pay the £52 million buyout clause, something the Old Trafford club can afford to do, also pay him in the region of £175,000 per week, which is something they can afford too.

It is stated that Barcelona feel that they may be fighting a losing battle with Umtiti, also growing unhappy with the stance of his agent and brother, Yannick Umtiti. Umtiti’s current contract will expire in the summer of 2021 and Barcelona start negotiations two-years before the expiry, meaning they have started this with three years remaining, suggesting they don’t want to lose the player.

The £52 million buyout clause is considered as ‘reasonable’ in the current market and United, amongst other clubs, would find it easy to part with such a substantial fee for the French international, who is playing to the best of his abilities and development at this current time.

United will be seeking new defensive players ahead of the transfer window this summer with the likes of Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, and Daley Blind tipped for departure. Smalling and Jones have both been linked to Everton recently, with Blind wanting to leave in January but Jose Mourinho refused to weaken the defence for the remainder of the season, which would have been a gamble.

It is possible that Mourinho could adopt a 3-5-2 variation formation next season, using three central defensive players at the back, two wing-backs, his midfield and attacking players, which has been used by Chelsea for the last two seasons, and other clubs. United have played in similar formations this season, not utilising it since Jones, Blind and Marcos Rojo have been on the sidelines.

Rojo signed a new contract weeks ago and with Victor Lindelof and Eric Bailly, another talented central defender could give Mourinho a strong defence, which may see him use formations that attack more, worrying about the strength at the back with players who just do not seem able to play to their strengths.

Umtiti could be that fourth strong central defender, and whether it sees the likes of Smalling, Jones, and Blind leave in the summer, or just one or two of them, it will still mean that United’s defence will be much stronger and perhaps United’s attacking will benefit a little bit more. A strong defence added to a strong attack will leave United in a better position to challenge for titles.

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