Barcelona gets a chance to finally get rid of Samuel Umtiti. Brand new PhD student Girona may just be the French defender’s next destination. Pere Guardiola, chairman of Girona’s board of directors, told radio station Cadena SER that the club ‘doesn’t rule out his coming’. Umtiti has been out of favor with the Catalans for some time now. The defender earned more than 240,000 euros a week, a salary that has since been adjusted downwards. The Frenchman refused to hand in wages to help the club out of financial difficulties.
Umtiti’s relationship with Barcelona has deteriorated in recent years. The defender came over from Olympique Lyon in the summer of 2016 for 25 million euros. At Barcelona, the Frenchman became one of the best defenders in Europe and won the 2018 World Cup with France as a starting player. Nevertheless, the season after that tournament started the malaise between club and player. Umtiti has missed numerous matches in recent years due to a series of injuries. So much so that his credit as a top player ran out and he was less and less included in the squad by the Catalan club. However, the world champion refused to leave Barcelona, given the high salary he would not receive anywhere else.
This season was the crowning glory, as the native Cameroonian only came in for a few minutes once during a league match. The ousted footballer garnered some sympathy at the beginning of this year: he extended his contract with Barça until 2026 and this time agreed to a salary reduction. Partly because of that sacrifice, Blaugrana sign the attacker Ferran Torres, who came over from Manchester City, for the competition. Previously, this was not allowed by UEFA’s Financial Fair Play rules.
A possible transfer from Umtiti now seems a more realistic outcome from various perspectives. With his contract extension, Barcelona can still ask for some money for the defender. His lower salary also offers an opportunity for other clubs to match his demands. Girona will look to strengthen the team after promotion to LaLiga to continue acting at the highest level. In addition, the financial decisiveness is increasing, because the club participates in sold television rights of the highest division in Spain.
After Girona secured promotion on Sunday night with a 1-3 win over Tenerife, Guardiola was asked about the Barcelona defender. “We do not rule out the possibility that he will sign with Girona,” he said benevolently. The brother of Manchester City manager Josep Guardiola then referred further questions on the topic to Quique Cárcel and Míchel, the club’s director and head coach respectively. Girona will be active again at the highest level in Spain for the first time in three years next season. The club settled with Tenerife (0-0 and 1-3) in two matches. Girona narrowly reached the play-offs by securing sixth place on goal difference. Remarkably enough, the lowest price in the last three years.
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