As former Rangers manager Pedro Caixinha once said: “The dogs bark and the caravan keeps on turning.”
As transfer rumours persist despite the world of football being completely shut down for the foreseeable future, those words of infinite wisdom seem to vaguely apply. Well, they would, if any of us knew what they meant.
Anyway, here are the five main contenders to sign Barcelona defender Samuel Umtiti this summer, rated on their likelihood and suitability.
Juventus were briefly linked in the summer, but having since splashed out more than €100m to land Matthijs de Ligt and Merih Demiral, it’s difficult to imagine this one resurfacing unless there is major movement.
Leonardo Bonucci and Daniele Rugani are also in the Turin giants’ expansive defensive ranks, while Giorgio Chiellini may still extend his stay beyond this season. So. Yeah.
Likelihood Rating: 2/10
Suitability Rating: 1/10
They’ve got Harry Maguire – why would they need him?
In all seriousness, it’s not unthinkable that United will be in the market for a centre-back to offer cover for the first-choice pairing of Maguire and Victor Lindelof (though Eric Bailly’s contract extension makes that a little less likely).
But if they do go shopping in this department, Umtiti…isn’t the answer. He’s expensive, he’d be high earning, he’s injury-prone and he’d expect regular first-team football. None of that is good news for the balance of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s still-fragile squad.
Likelihood Rating: 3/10
Suitability Rating: 3/10
Arsenal have been crying out for a high-profile defensive addition, and although the hotly-anticipated arrival of Saliba will quench the thirst somewhat, it’s worth remembering that despite the fact he’s 6’4, he’s still just 12 years old.
An experienced, proven, elite-level defender would do nicely, and Umtiti ticks most boxes. He’s also French, which usually helps at Arsenal.
The one thing he has going against him, however, is a pretty big one. He’s expensive, and Arsenal don’t tend to do expensive.
Unless Barcelona sanction a loan move or the Gunners can pull some Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang swap-deal shenanigans out of the bag, this one seems like a stretch.
Likelihood Rating: 4/10
Suitability Rating: 6/10
Barcelona are reported to have offered virtually their entire squad to PSG in order to bring Neymar back to the club, and Umtiti – again, being French – is not an exception (there’s only one exception, in fact, and it’s Lionel Messi).
The fact that he’s expensive and injury-prone won’t bother the Parisians; they’ve never minded a risky transfer, after all, why should they bother now?
This one, you could quite easily see, though some outgoing movement would be required first, since Marquinhos, Thiago Silva, Presnel Kimpembe, Thilo Kehrer, Abdou Diallo and emerging duo Tanguy Kouassi and Loic Mbe Soh offer some pretty serious depth.
Likelihood Rating: 6/10
Suitability Rating: 5/10
A need for defensive improvements, more money than sense, and in strong enough position that they can afford to take a risk? Check, check and check.
Chelsea just seem like the right club for Umtiti, and have the means to make it happen if they see fit. From Umtiti’s perspective, it’s a club where he represents a clear enough improvement on the current options, but with Antonio Rudiger, Fikayo Tomori and Kurt Zouma in competition, the situation isn’t quite dire enough that he would be able to rest on his laurels.
It’s pretty much the ideal situation for him to go into. Only Chelsea qualifying for the Champions League might complicate it somewhat, but it’s hard to imagine Barcelona, in their current predicament, holding up the deal for competitive reasons.
Likelihood Rating: 7/10
Suitability Rating: 8/10