Tag Archives: samuel umtiti

Arsenal Set For French Shopping Spree

When Arsene Wenger left Arsenal in 2018, you would think the days of the club shopping in France, or buying French players had come to an end.

In the two transfer windows under Sven Mislintat’s eye, Arsenal looked at Germany, at players that Mislintat knew. The likes of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Henrik Mkhitaryan, Sokratis, Kostadinos Mavropanos and Bernd Leno.

With Unai Emery, Raul Sanllehi and Francis Cagigao running things now, you would have thought Arsenal would be focusing on the Spanish market. But this summer it seems Arsenal are back shopping on the other side of the English Channel.

The team already has a Gaelic feel, with Laurent Koscielny, Matteo Guendouzi, Alexandre Lacazette and French-born Aubameyang and having managed in France for 2 years, Emery would have extensive scouting reports of Ligue 1

With France having won the last World Cup and having some of the most exciting playhers in the world coming through, it is perhaps sensible that Arsenal are returning to a market they know well.

So who are the French or Ligue 1 based players Arsenal are looking at?

Alexis Claude Maurice

Arsenal could well return to Lorient this summer following the acquisition of Matteo Guendouzi last to sign French forward Alexis Claude Maurice.

Our friends over at GunnersTown wrote about the youngster back in January and he comes highly recommended.

It seems like Arsenal are looking beyon the more established wingers in France – the likes of Nicolas Pepe and  Ismael Sarr – and are looking at the next generation.

Christopher Nkunku

Part of that next generation is Charles Nkunku was Unai Emery would have worked with whilst at PSG.

Arsenal were linked with him in January. A late deal fell through at the last.

Versatility is the key with Nkunku, with him having played in Ligue 1 in midfield, attack and defence. A French Ainsley Maitland Niles. Could be a good asset to add in the middle of the park alongside Niles, Geundouzi, Granit Xhaka and Lucas Torreira

William Saliba

Arsenal are also looking to France for a long term replacement for Laurent Koscielny.

18-year-old St Etienne defender is reportedly top of the list, although the £26million I have seen quoted does seem a lot for a player with only a handful of appearances.

St Etienne reportedly want to sell but be loaned the player back for next season.

Samuel Umtiti

25-year-old Samuel Umtiti is reportedly on the way out of Barcelona, with Arsenal and Manchester United leading the way.

The French central defender has been plagued by injured and lost his starting place for Barcelona earlier this last season.

He is a proven international class defender, but there have to be question marks over those knees.

Ibrahima Konaté & Dayot Upamecano

Arsenal have been linked with RB Leipzig pair Ibrahima Konaté & Dayot Upamecano already this summer.

The pair sit between Saliba and Umtiti in terms of experience.

Upamecano is a little more experienced, with Konaté perhaps being a little more talented. There is not much to split them.

Adrien Rabiot

The last man on this list is someone we have been linked with for what feels like a decade.

Despite having been around forever, Rabiot is still only 24.

Emery is reportedly targeting a box to box midfielder to compete alongside Granit Xhaka and Lucas Torreira.

Having worked with Emery before, and available on a free transfer, Rabiot could be a good replacement for Aaron Ramsey (the defensive side of his game at least).

He has had a troublesome couple of years and his attitude left him to miss out on a potential World Cup medal. But he is a talent.


It would not surprise me to see Arsenal sign at least two from this list over the summer.

Keenos

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Two out as Arsenal look to finance move for Samuel Umtiti

Arsenal have been heavily linked with Barcelona central defender Samuel Umtiti in recent weeks. At the moment it feels a bit like the media are putting 2 and 2 together and getting 5.

Umtiti has dropped to 3rd choice centre back for the Spanish giants this season, although this has more to do with a troublesome knee injury than anything else.

Since regaining fitness, Umtiti has found himself behind Gerard Pique and compatriot Clement Lenglet.

With Barcelona chasing Ajax defender Matthijs de Ligt, the talk is Barcelona will need to cash in on one of their other 3 defenders to accommodate him.

It is unlikely they will sell Gerard Pique, and the experienced campaigner would unlikely command a high transfer fee. That leaves Umtiti and Lenglet.

Umtiti would command a bigger transfer fee than Lenglet, and would also likely be less happy to sit on the bench behind de Ligt and Pique. All this in the mixing pot has led to the rumours that Umtiti will be off this summer.

The two clubs he has been linked with are Arsenal and Manchester United – the two Premier League sides most in need of a centre back; although Chelsea are surely going to be desperate for one this summer as well.

Umtiti would be a brilliant signing for Arsenal.

25-years-old, he is an athletic centre back who is naturally left sided. You can foresee him fitting in nicely alongside Sokratis in the short term.

The stumbling block however will be the fee.

Umtiti has been touted around at the £60million mark, which would take up the majority of Arsenal’s existing transfer kitty.

So how would Arsenal afford Umtiti whilst leaving enough money to buy a central midfielder, winger and a left back?

The easy answer is that they need to sell to be, and we have to sellable central defenders who could find themselves surplus to requirements were Umtiti to join.

The first is Shokdran Mustasfi.

The German international has had a tough time of late, with every error magnified online.

He is not as bad as some people make out, but he is not the level required for a starting central defender.

Unai Emery has been unable to drop him recently despite poor form. Injuries to Rob Holding, Laurent Koscielny and Kostadinos Mavropanos have left Arsenal with two fit central defenders.

With Sokratis set for a 2 match ban, Mustafi has a part to play in the run in.

Despite his poor recent form, Arsenal would still be able to command a decent fee for Mustafi.

He is not on huge wages (£90,000 per week) and would start for every team outside of the top 6. Were Everton, Wolves, Watford or Leicester to move for him, Arsenal could easily recoup £20million.

Umtiti should be seen as a direct replacement for Mustafi.

If Arsenal made the two deals, it would leave us with Umtiti, Sokratis, Holding, Koscielny and Mavropanos as out defensive options. It would give us strong cover.

The man not mentioned above is Calum Chambers, and he is another that Arsenal should cash in on.

Chambers is currently performing well at Fulham. Despite their struggles, he has been their shining light playing central midfield.

His good form has led for some Arsenal fans to call for his return, but his time at Arsenal is clearly up.

Chambers left on loan to Fulham having found himself behind Sokratis, Mustafi, Holding and Koscielny in the pecking order. He has since made a bit of a name for himself playing in the middle of the park for Fulham.

Were he to return he would still be 5th choice centre back at best (if we signed Umtiti) and would also be behind Granit Xhaka, Lucas Torreira and Matteo Guendouzi.

Taking into account how little game time Ainsley Maitland-Niles has had (in the middle of the park or Mohamed Elneny, Chambers would simply not play.

Due to his good form at Fulham, Arsenal would likely receive £20m+ for him.

Any of the promoted sides would snap him up, as well as the lower end Premier League teams. He would be an asset to all of them.

So were Arsenal to sell Chambers and Mustafi, we would raise over £40million, which would be 2/3s of Umtiti’s transfer fee. That would leave plenty more in the pot to improve elsewhere.

Maybe Arsenal should go in with £80million and snap up both Umtiti and Malcolm?

Going to be a big summer for Unai Emery.

Keenos

Barcelona centreback wanted by Arsenal

Samuel Umtiti is a fabulous player.

He would tick almost every box when it comes to what Arsenal need in a new central defender.

Left footed, left sided, he would provide the cover inside of Saed Kolasinac to allow the Bosnian left back to bomb forward.

At just 25-years-old, he has both the experience and youth to come in between Sokratis & Rob Holding / Kostadinos Mavropanos. An instant improvement to our defence, he would be a short term partner for Sokratis whilst being a long fixture in the heart of Arsenal’s defence.

He is everything you need in a modern defender.

In 2018, ESPN FC journalist Sam Marsden was effusive in praising Umtiti, opining that, “As well as reading the game as if it was a children’s book, timing his challenges to the millisecond and putting his body on the line in the name of a block, [Umtiti] is a daring defender…He takes risks, feeding the ball between the lines, and rarely picks the wrong option.”

I talk about Umtiti because speculation is building that Arsenal are targeting the French defender this summer.

The source of the speculation is questionable.

It comes from Darren Arsenal on Twitter.

Darren is one of the few people on Twitter that I follow, and he is not one of those ITK attention seekers who regularly come out with transfer speculation to gain followers. He does have some insider information, although he called Mikel Arteta wrong in the summer.

I have no reason to doubt the validity of his comment, however whenever speculation starts with an individual from Twitter, it has to be taken with a huge pinch of salt.

When I saw the comment at the weekend, my first thought was “brilliant, he would be ideal”. But in writing this article, there is a big concern – his injury history.

If Arsenal signed Umtiti, he would have to get his play acting out of the system from day one.

He has an embarrassing tendency to take a dive in defence, to roll about on the floor feigning injury. Whilst this might work in La Liga and the Champions League, referees in England are a little bit less sympathetic. They will see through his play acting and wave play on, telling him to get up.

His knee problems are a huge concern.

Umtiti has started just 8 league games for Barcelona this year. The two previous years he started 24 games out of 38.

Each year at Barcelona he has suffered numerous injuries ruling him out of games. It is his latest 3 injuries that our most concerning, however.

His last 3 injuries have all been knee problems – seeing him miss over 30 games for Barcelona. The knee problems in 7 months. It is clearly a reoccurring problem, and one that would make him a big risk to sign.

I have long been of the opinion that Arsenal should cash in on Shkodran Mustafi and Calum Chambers this summer, with the £40-50m in combined transfer fees paying for a single top class defender. That sort of money would secure you Umtiti.

But with his injury problems, can Umtiti be relied upon to be first choice for 38 games a year? And if not should we really be investing big in a player with his injury history?

Were we to go into next season with Sokratis, Umtiti, Laurent Koscielny and Holding, you would be very concerned that three of the 4 have recently had long term lay offs

Koscielny has his long term Achilles injury. He perhaps only has 1 or 2 years left in him. Whilst he can not be relied upon for a season, he is a good, experienced option to have as 4th choice.

You then have Rob Holding who is out long term with a knee ligament injury.

Who knows when he will return? How he will return? And if he develops a long term reoccurring issue?

To then add Umtiti into the mix would be a risk. There would be a high chance that all 3 could be injured at one time; leaving Arsenal with just one senior central defender (I exclude Mavropanos, he is not a senior squad member and has also faced his own problems).

It will then be up to Arsenal to assess the risk, decide if he is worthwhile pursuing.

There is no doubt that, when fit, Umtiti is one of the best defenders in world football. That he would be ideally suited to play on the left hand side of Arsenal’s central defence. That he is a quality player that we could then build the next 5-8 years around.

But there is doubt over his injury record.

Keenos