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A young, true center back at FC Barcelona: A long time coming

In this column, Xoel Càrdenas talks about Samuel Umtiti and the fact that for the first time in six years, FC Barcelona will buy a young, true center back.

Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images

It seems like after so many years, FC Barcelona will finally sign a young, true center back.

According to multiple reports, FCB will sign Olympique Lyonnais and French national team player Samuel Umtiti to a five-year deal. An agreement with Lyon has yet to be reached, but is expected to be completed.

First off, let me just say that I'm not here to give you a thorough breakdown of Umtiti's skills. Why? Because I honestly have not seem much of the 22-year-old in action either with Lyon or the French national team. I'll wait until a good journalist friend who covers Ligue I is done covering EURO 2016 to get the expert scoop on Umtiti.

I won't rely on YouTube videos to determine my thoughts on Umtiti and you shouldn't either.

After so many years, it appears Barcelona will do what should have been done a long time ago: invest in a young, true center back.

Why didn't this happen earlier?

As you know, part of it was due to Barcelona's success without a second true CB in the starting XI. Javier Mascherano has done a fairly good job the past five years as the CB. It hasn't been always good and Masche has had his issues, but for the most part, having a "false" CB hasn't truly hurt Barcelona.

Titles tend to cover things up.

Another element into why the need to invest in a young, true CB hasn't been a priority is the Barça board. The Sandro Rosell/Josep Bartomeu presidency has lacked the ability to execute a deal to bring a young CB in. It's easy to blame former director of football Andoni Zubizarreta for the inability. Yes, Zubi is part of the reason, but he took orders from Rosell, Barto and other faceless bigwigs at FCB that were (probably still are) dictating what happens at the club.

As we know, Bartomeu is a shady character, to say the least. And to fully have any kind of confidence in his words, decisions and action is foolish.

Arguably the worst Barça signing in the past decade was the signing of Dmytro Chygrynskiy in 2009. He was a young, true CB (then age 22) and it was a signing Pep Guardiola wanted. Chygrynskiy had a 2009-10 season to forget and less than a year after being purchased for €25 million, he was resold back to Shakhtar Donetsk for €15 million.

That's a €10 million profit Shakhtar made in less than a year thanks to Barça.

Two young CBs that never panned out for the club were Marc Muniesa and Andreu Fontas. Both players left prior to the start of the 2013-14 season.

In 2014, Barcelona said goodbye to Carles Puyol. "El Capità" had a stellar career. Puyi began to have chronic injuries plague his health since 2010, worsening in 2012, and by 2014, the time had come to hang the boots up.

The problem for Barcelona was there wasn't a true heir to the Puyol thrown ready. Trying to replace Puyol was always going to be near impossible, but there was no attempt to truly groom a young, true CB to be ready once Carles left.

Over the years, we've heard names like Thiago Silva, Mats Hummels and David Luiz being linked to a move to the Camp Nou. None ever happened. There have been players who've patched up the need for a young, true CB over the years. The likes of Alex Song, Jeremy Mathieu and Thomas Vermaelen have been the emergency bandage whenever Mascherano hasn't been available.

Marc Bartra was seen as part of the future of FC Barcelona. While he didn't play Puyol's position (left CB), Bartra was supposed to be the first Masia CB in years to stay on the first team for a while.

As we all know, that did not come to fruition.

Now the 2016-17 is on the horizon and we are back to a very, very familiar position: waiting for Barcelona to sign a young, true CB who will hopefully be a part of the future.

While I am happy that Barcelona appears to be closing in on a signing, I can't help but have mixed feelings about the whole thing. We've been waiting for something like this since Chygrynskiy was sold. That's six years!

It’s definitely a bittersweet moment. Happy it’s finally happening, but can’t help but be a bit annoyed that it didn’t happen earlier.

Will Samuel Umtiti be a revelation or a bust at Barcelona? Only time will tell. I’m not going to criticize anything about Umtiti. How could anyone do that in the first place?

We have to wait and let Umtiti’s performances, chemistry with his teammates and maturity determine his success — or lack thereof — at Barcelona.

They say timing is everything.

Let’s hope for FC Barcelona, the timing of Samuel Umtiti’s signing is (finally) just right.


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