It’s a headline I never thought I’d write, a question that I’d never considered needed to be asked.
Big Sam on his way out of Camp Nou? Surely not.
But let’s not beat around the bush here... there are a certain set of circumstances that could see it happen.
Take Clement Lenglet’s outstanding season as a start point. Umtiti’s countryman has clearly grasped his opportunity with both hands, to the extent that you could legitimately argue that Umtiti’s starting place is no longer a given.
The former has shown no sign of being overawed by the competition, meeting the challenge of forcing his way into the side head on. Bravo!
Unpopular opinion: Lenglet has a much higher ceiling than Umtiti and will surpass him as a CB very soon. That's if he hasn't already surpassed him. pic.twitter.com/ranaoFhAI7— sm (@TacticoModerno) March 18, 2019
Umtiti hasn’t helped himself either by continuing to adopt a holistic approach to his knee injury, allegedly going against the explicit wishes of the club’s medical team.
That wouldn’t normally be something to raise an eyebrow, but in his current situation it has been more of a hindrance to him than a help.
It’s allowed doubt to seep into the minds of the technical team, and that, potentially, has implications.
Harsh to label umtiti as injury prone, only reason his knee injury kept him out for much of these season was cause he refused to be operated on and preferred it healing on its own— BENNY (@culerate) March 27, 2019
Perhaps the biggest issue facing the Frenchman is the hire of Matthijs de Ligt. From what we know, there is a genuine desire on the part of both player and club to get a deal done.
From a Barcelona perspective, it’s easy to understand why they’d want to procure the services of the youngster.
Though age would normally be a factor in such a deal, and there’s an argument that Barca’s purpose might be better served by acquiring him in a year or 18 months, when talent like that becomes available, particularly if his express preference is to join the Catalans, then you go all in.
It seems like Matthijs de Ligt will be joining his bestfriend Frenkie de Jong at Barcelona after turning down a number of Europe's biggest clubs. Bartomeu is making Barça Dutch again. [@MHChehade] pic.twitter.com/Hwhyn47ggi— barcacentre (@barcacentre) March 20, 2019
De Ligt’s style is perfect for the Blaugranes. Schooled in much the same way at Ajax, he’s already proven beyond doubt that he has the capabilities to pass any ‘exam’ with flying colours, but whether he plays immediately or not would be a matter for Ernesto Valverde.
The other part of this equation to touch on is money. The Dutchman won’t come cheap and salaries are already at a dangerously high level.
Quite clearly therefore, someone has to go, and the sale of Umtiti will allow Barca to command a big fee. The player’s supposed courting of Manchester United a while back has seen the Red Devils apparently showing their hand again.
Manchester United have contacted Umtiti according to Mundo Deportivo— Tancredi Palmeri (@tancredipalmeri) March 27, 2019
With a good case made for why Umtiti could be moved on, is it too much to suggest that he has just 10 La Liga matches (maximum) and a handful in Europe to save his Barcelona career?