Barcelona are “planning for the worst” after talks with Manchester United target Samuel Umtiti reached a significant impasse this week, according to reports.
The Frenchman’s current deal runs until 2021 but his release clause of just £52m has sent alarm bells ringing among Barcelona chiefs.
Umtiti has enjoyed an excellent season at the Nou Camp and wants to see his £50,000-a-week salary trebled to align with the likes of Luis Suarez and Andres Iniesta.
But Barcelona are reluctant to countenance such a raise amid the costs of Philipe Coutinho’s arrival in January, Lionel Messi’s new contract, and the impending summer arrival of Antoine Griezmann from Atletico Madrid. And according to the Mirror‘s John McDonnell, Jose Mourinho is preparing to pounce on the current impasse between Umtiti and his club by offering the defender the £8m-a-year package he wants.
Chris Smalling is set to leave in the summer, with Phil Jones possibly following as well, and Mourinho has expressed a desire to place Umtiti – still just 24 – alongside Eric Bailly to provide the foundation for a consistently reliable back line.
But supporters ought to not get excited just yet. How often, after all, have top players – mainly from La Liga – have used links with United as leverage for a new deal with their club? This looks like going the same way.