Barcelona is Barcelona - Umtiti not ready to leave Camp Nou despite Lyon interest

By Sports Desk October 25, 2020

Samuel Umtiti has revealed he held talks with Lyon during the transfer window but did not want to leave Barcelona on bad terms.

After a promising start at the club following his 2016 switch from Lyon - where he had spent the previous 14 years - Umtiti has struggled for form and fitness, particularly since the start of 2018-19.

He has made 77 LaLiga appearances for the Catalan giants and ranks highly for interceptions since 2016-17 began, averaging 1.73 per game - behind only Jordi Alba (2.09) among those still at the club.

A return to Lyon was on the cards during the close season but Umtiti would rather turn things around at Camp Nou first.

"Everything was possible during the transfer window," he told Canal+. "Lyon is my club and my city. They gave me the opportunity to be seen.

"There were discussions, but it was quick, nothing concrete. I had to be able to speak with a club. I'll be honest: Barcelona is Barcelona.

"I don't want to leave Barcelona and even less like that."

Umtiti has been blighted by persistent knee problems over the past couple of seasons and has yet to feature under new Barca boss Ronald Koeman.

However, the 26-year-old is hopeful his injury issues are now a thing of the past after a change of lifestyle.

"The last two years have been the most complicated of my career," he said. "Sometimes I got really sick of it. I relapsed each time, and with different injuries because I was trying to compensate.

"It wasn't a knee problem, it was that I had a total imbalance. I had to start over. I stopped eating meat, fish and milk. I feel better, I sleep better. I have never felt so good physically.

"My body has also changed. I have lost three kilos. I have recovered. I have never worked so hard. And I'm happy about it."

Umtiti now intends to rival fellow France international Clement Lenglet for a regular starting spot alongside Gerard Pique in the heart of Barca's backline.

"He occupies my position for Barcelona and the French team," he said. "It doesn't bother me at all. On the contrary - I encourage him and there is a very good understanding between us.

"We could play together. But, I think he knows it: when I come back, I will do anything to get back to my place and to play. But there is no jealousy between us."

Umtiti is not the only French player struggling to make an impact in Catalonia, with Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele also facing regular criticism.

"We have all lived through complicated times," the defender said. "Everyone puts knives behind our backs and wants to kill us. But, between us, we try to laugh in order to smile again."

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