Samul Umtiti has had some rough times, but he is having better days now. Is it too early to call it a comeback?
The French defender was on his way to, perhaps, being recognized as one of the best defenders in world football after arriving from Olympique Lyonnais to FC Barcelona. His impressive displays at club level were capped off with a FIFA World Cup win. Umtiti even scored the winning goal in the semifinal in that 2018 run.
But that tournament cost him as he avoided a knee operation to be available to play for his country. That same knee kept him out consistently since the start of the 2018-19 season, and when he did appear, he seemed to be a ghost of his former self.
Since the start of the year, Umtiti has played three complete games - all wins. He has given a good account of himself, with the Catalans only conceding once.
Though just 27, Umtiti is also working as the experienced partner for Barcelona’s two up-and-coming centerbacks: Ronald Araújo and Óscar Mingueza. The two have performed admirably for the Catalans this season, who have been without Gerard Piqué for long stretches.
With a match against Paris Saint-Germain in the UEFA Champions League coming up in approximately two weeks, it will be interesting to see who Ronald Koeman picks to round out his backline.