Tag Archives: samuel umtiti

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

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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

Who should Arsenal target this summer?

On Friday, we dissected the squad to look at what we actually need in the summer to improve the first team and squad. From this, it was a common consensus that Arsenal need:

  1. A first choice goal keeper
  2. A first choice centre back
  3. A first choice defensive midfielder
  4. A squad winger

So I was then asked the above.

Simply put, who should Arsenal sign?

We were already working on a blog to discuss this, putting potential signings into 4 categories:

  1. Money no object
  2. Realistic signing
  3. Realistic signing
  4. Budget option

With the help of EastLondonGooner, we completed the list. Here are the players who would make up our fantasy target list:

Money No Object

Jan Oblak  – Goalkeeper

The Atletico Madrid goalkeeper has been one of the most consistent in Europe over the last 2 and a half years.

Atletico paid €16 million for the Slovenian international in 2014. The 25 year old would be a big money signing, his release clause is reported at €100m, but would be first choice keeper for the next 10 years.

Samuel Umtiti – Centreback

Barcelona are starting to worry that the French centreback has a £54m release clause is too low. And in the current market it probably is.

Umtiti is just 6 months older than Manchester City’s new record signing Aymeric Laporte – who cost City £57m. Umtiti also keeps his compatriot out of the national side.

A left footed, left sided centre back, he would provide great balance to Shkodran Mustafi on the right hand side.

Sual Niguez – Defensive Midfielder

I am a massive fan of Saul Niguez for a few years.. The Atletico Madrid player is a terrific player. He is an all action central midfielder, reminding me a lot of Steven Gerrard. He can defend, he can attack. He can pass, he can score.

For Atletico, he tends to play in a more advanced position, but this is due to their defensive approach to the game. At an attacking side like Arsenal, he would have the skills and ability to adapt to playing deeper.

Would Atletico Madrid let him go? Certainly not easily, but they are traditionally a club who have to sell before they buy. With Diego Simeone set to leave Madrid this summer, there might be an exodus to follow.

Could a deal involving Alexandre Lacazette be of interest?

Thomas Lemar – Winger

Arsenal had a £90m deal for the young Frenchman collapse on the summer 2017 deadline day. Interest was not renewed in him in January as Arsenal instead secured Henrik Mkhitaryan as replacement for Alexis Sanchez.

Having also signed Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and with Mesut Ozil signing a new contract, I would be surprised if Arsenal re-enter the race for Thomas Lemar. It would be a lot of money spent on a player who would not be guaranteed a start (unless Arsenal return to 4231).

Realistic Signing

Jack Butland – Goalkeeper

The Stoke City stopped became the the youngest goalkeeper to play for the senior England team when he made his debut in August 2012.

6 years on and he seems to have recovered from the ankle injury which same him miss almost all of the 2016/17 season.

25 years old, 6ft 5in and English, it would take Arsenal back to the days of David Seaman having England’s number 1 (which I am sure he will be at this summers World Cup).

Kostas Manolas – Centreback

Arsenal reportedly failed with 2 deadline day deals. One of which was allegedly for long-term target Manolas.

The Greek centreback has been on Arsenal’s radar since 2015, could 2018 be the year Arsenal finally secure their man?

Fabinho  – Defensive Midfielder

The Brazilian was heavily linked with Manchester United in the summer, but with Kylian Mbappe, Bernardo Silva and Tiémoué Bakayoko leaving, Monaco managed to hold on to both Fabinho and Thomas Lemar.

This summer will see sides go in for the pair again, and this time it might be Fabinho who is top of Arsenal’s wish list, rather than Thomas Lemar.

Malcom – Winger

A deal for Malcom to Arsenal would have been completed in January if the Mkhitaryan and Aubameyang deals did not present themselves.

Arsenal pulled away from the deal, but this could be a temporary measure. If has given the club an additional 6 months to look at and monitor the talented young winger.

A deal for around £25m could be completed early in the summer.

Realistic Signing (2)

Alban Lafont – Goalkeeper

When it comes to young goal keepers, all the talk is about AC Milan’s Gianluigi Donnarumma, but at just 19 years old, Frenchman Lafont is quietly building a reputation for himself.

Already with over 90 first team games, this is his 3rd season as Toulouse’s number one.

With Petr Cech having one more year on his contract, a move for Lafont would be great for succession planning, as the veteran goalkeeper takes a back seat and mentors the youngster.

David de Gea had a tough time when he came to England, Lafont will go through similar. But the investment in De Gea worked out for Manchester United. With the right coaches and enough game time, Lafont could become one of the worlds best.

Harry Maguire – Centreback

The Leicester City defender seems to grow in stature every time I see him.

Not a fashionable name, he joined Leicester from Hull City in June 2017 and his career has continued on a upward curve.

From Sheffield United to Hull City to Leicester City, he would not be the name at the top of many peoples lists, but he is turning into a top Premier League defender and has recently forced his way into England reckoning.

He has the no-nonsense defensive attributes that you would expect from someone who has made his way up through the leagues, but he can play as well. I have been very impressed with his ability on the ball when in an England shirt.

25 in March, he is a serious contender.

Jean-Michael Seri – Defensive Midfielder

We are struggling to transition the ball from defence to attack. Something that has ended up leaving Mesut Ozil isolated and coming deeper to get the ball.

Santi Cazorla has not been replaced. Xhaka was supposed to be that replacement, starting out attacks from deep, but too often he gives the ball away in dangerous places leading to goals conceded.

Seri is a diminutive, hard working midfielder who has a £33 million release clause.

He is a defensive midfielder who covers a lot of ground, so would fit in perfectly with Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere either side.

Leon Bailey – Winger

The 20-year-old Jamaican speedster joined Bayer Leverkusen for €20 million in the  2016/17 transfer window. He has broken through to the first team this season, scoring 8 goals in his 16 appearances.

At a reported £35m, he is a lot of money for an unproven talent. But he is a talent.

With the growing contingent of German speakers at the club, Bailey could fit right in

Budget Option

Danijel Subašić – Goalkeeper

At 33, the Monaco goalkeeper would be a short term solution to replacing Petr Cech.

Having been at Monaco for 7 years, he signed a year extension to his current deal in the summer of 2017, taking him through to the end of 2020.

He may wish to see out his career at Monaco, but a chance to join a massive club in the twilight of his career might be too much to turn down. And would Monaco turn down £10-15m for the ageing goal keeper?

Jonny Evans – Centreback

Alan Pardew gloated the day the transfer window shut that Arsenal had failed with a £12m bid for the Northern Irish centreback. He laughed as he said it would have taken an offer twice that amount for WBA to accept the bid.

Arsenal could have the last laugh as the experienced defender could be available for as little as £3million if WBA get relegated.

Idrissa Gueye – Defensive Midfielder

In the 2016 calendar year, the Everton midfielder made the most successful tackles and interceptions out of any player in Europe’s top five leagues.

Gueye is a strong tackler, but he can also play from the back and is able to distribute quickly – something which Granit Xhaka struggles with.

He is a proven Premier League player that would immediately improve the Arsenal squad.

Florian Thauvin – Winger

If you are scratching your head thinking I recognise this name it is probably because you will remember him for a poor spell at Newcastle in 2015.

After not settling in the North-East, he was loaned back to Marseille before rejoining the club he left for the Geordies in 2017.

Since returning to Marseille, he has returned to the sparkling form that led Newcastle to pay £15m for him – scoring 29 goals in the last 18 months in France.

An outside bet to make France’s World Cup squad, if Arsenal do not require a first team winger, the speedster could be a cheap, but quality, option.

So in summary:

If we have missed anyone, please leave a name in the comments below!

Keenos