Arsenal are hoping to sign a new defender, or two, this summer and they could have received a boost in their pursuit for one of their top targets.
The Gunners have crumbled in the Premier League at the final hurdle this season and a poor defence has been at the heart of many of the poor displays. Unai Emery will be looking to strengthen this area of his team and according to talkSPORT, Arsenal are in pole position to sign Samuel Umtiti from Barcelona.
Umtiti is a top class defender that could actually be available for transfer this summer, with Barcelona actively pursuing a move for Matthias De Ligt from Ajax, and with Umtiti already settling for a place on the bench for much of this season, he would surely become dispensable to the Spanish club.
He’s available you say? So why isn’t every man and his dog after him. Well according to CalcioMercato, Juventus showed some initial interest, but the Italian giants are unconvinced by the players littered injury history and so have pulled out of the race to sign him. You could say that Arsenal should also be concerned by this injury history, and they probably should, considering he would cost upwards of £40million.
But with quality so clearly lacking in defence, can Arsenal really afford to miss an opportunity to sign a 25-year-old defender that has won the world cup and performed for the likes of Barcelona.
Arsenal need a left-sided central defender, so Umtiti also ticks that box. The 29-time capped Frenchman is also capable of playing as a left-back in an emergency.
But can Arsenal convince Umtiti to come to The Emirates? They’d probably need Champions League football and now they cannot achieve that from their league position, they will need to win the Europa League. According to AmazingBet the odds are against them, with Chelsea favourites for the crown, but Emery will hope he can again deliver Europe’s second tier competition.
Aside from the injury record, my only other slight concern with Umtiti is he is not the most physically imposing. The Gunners desperately need some giants in the team, physically, mentally and technically. Virgil van Dijk is a great example of a leader who brilliantly combines those three attributes, is Umtiti capable of making such an impact?