Barcelona are set to ease Samuel Umtiti back into action after the international break as the defender starts to make his return from injury, according to a report by Marca.
It has been claimed the France international is set to recover from the fitness issues that have stalled his progress this season, with various problems having come to haunt him.
However, it is understood he is closing in on a return from the metatarsal ailment he suffered in the previous international break and he is expected to be handed minutes from the bench once the current stop in club football ends, as they trust the defender’s natural ability.
It will have been frustrating for Ernesto Valverde and Barcelona not to have been able to call upon Umtiti at all during the current campaign as he has been a solid member of the defence in recent seasons following his switch from Olympique de Lyonnais.
According to data collected by WhoScored, the 25-year-old was a rock in defence for the Blaugrana for the past couple of years, however last season was an issue for the defender as he was limited to just a handful of appearances.
In 2016/17 (his first campaign at the Nou Camp), Umtiti managed to achieve an average of 1.1 tackles, 1.9 interceptions and 2.7 clearances in the 25 appearances he made in La Liga competition, before going on to improve the following year with figures of two tackles, 1.5 interceptions and 2.8 clearances in the same number of matches.
Indeed, last year was not the best for the France international as he only managed to feature in 14 top-flight matches because of two knee injuries, ruling him out of 28 games (per TransferMarkt), although he still averaged a reasonable 0.6 tackles, 1.3 interceptions and 1.9 clearances (WhoScored).
Prior to those problems, Umtiti was, arguably, one of Barcelona’s best defenders as he consistently stat near the top of their defensive charts with his contributions (WhoScored), however he will now need to compete with the likes of Clement Lenglet and Gerard Pique for a place in Valverde’s side – two men who excelled at the back last season.
If Umtiti is able to finally fully recover from the injury issues he has had recently, then it will clearly be good news for Barcelona moving forward and it appears they are going the right way about introducing him back into the team.
The 25-year-old is right to be trusted to return to his very best as he has proven to be an excellent defender in the past, although he is going to have to hit the ground running if he is to have any chance of dislodging compatriot Lenglet or Pique for a place in the first-team moving forward.
Barcelona fans, do you think Umtiti will be back to his best once fit? Let us know your thoughts by sharing them in the comments section below!Like what the TT have on offer? Sign up for more notifications!