Barcelona have begun a rebuilding process in defence after agreeing to sign French centre-back Samuel Umtiti from Lyon.
Lyon announced in a statement they have agreed to sell the defender to Barcelona for €25m, with the move to be made official on 15 July.
A FIFA U-20 World Cup winner with France in 2013, Umtiti’s technique makes him a natural fit for Barcelona, while he also possesses plenty of pace and sound aerial ability. Fans might see this all for themselves soon: the 22-year-old is tipped to make his senior international debut in France’s UEFA EURO 2016 quarter-final against Iceland on Sunday, covering for the suspended Adil Rami.
Umtiti is Barcelona’s first signing of the summer, although the club have already waved goodbye to two defenders in Marc Bartra (who has joined Borussia Dortmund) and Dani Alves (off to Juventus after collecting 23 trophies in eight seasons with the Blaugrana).
The new arrival brings an extra competitive edge to the centre of Barça’s defence and the Frenchman will jostle for a starting berth with Gerard Piqué and Javier Mascherano, the club’s first choice centre-back pairing since the 2010/11 season. Jérémy Mathieu and Thomas Vermaelen will continue to offer reliable back up.
With left-back Jordi Alba enjoying another stellar season last term and Mathieu able to deputise in that position too, the biggest challenge for Barcelona in re-building their defence is at right-back, where Alves made 391 appearances from 2008-16.
The club have made no indication they are looking to bring in a direct replacement for the livewire Brazilian, meaning Sergi Roberto and Aleix Vidal – who both began their careers as midfielders – will compete for the spot next season. Roberto was Barça’s revelation player of 2015/16 after spending four years on the squad’s periphery since his debut in 2011 and is likely to be first-choice over Vidal, who only made six league starts last term after joining from Sevilla.
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