Manchester City will be given permission to sign out-of-favour Barcelona star Samuel Umtiti in the January transfer window in a deal that could fetch as much as £46.2million.
The champions’ faltering form in the Premier League this season has led to speculation they may seek to address their defensive problems in next month’s transfer window.
The departure of Vincent Kompany at the end of last term and a serious injury to Aymeric Laporte has left City boss Pep Guardiola short of specialist centre-backs.
Midfielder Fernandinho has been operating in the back four as a result – something Guardiola was forced to defend recently – but, with City having fallen a staggering 14 points behind leaders Liverpool, may need to strengthen to meet their ambitions.
Guardiola has gone to great lengths to deny claims he plans to bolster his rearguard next month, saying recently: “I don’t want any players in January. If we cannot do it in summer, we cannot do it in January.
“When they come in January for the next four, five, six years maybe we could think about it, but that is not possible.
“Normally the players we could think would be interesting and add something to our squad – they are not going to be sold.”
However, L’Equipe believes Barcelona’s softening stance over the future of Umtiti could lead to a change of heart by Guardiola and City.
The France international has struggled with a persistent knee injury over the past 12 months and a variety of treatments have struggled to find a solution. When the issue first flared up in November 2018, Umtiti underwent a period of rehabilitation in Qatar, before undergoing minor surgery back in Spain.
When the situation failed to fix itself, Barca doctors recommended a further, more complicated operation; a process for which the player rejected, instead opting for a more conservative approach in a bid to get the injury to, eventually, heal more naturally.
And now, having finally returned to fitness, the LaLiga champions are willing to allow the player to move on, with City currently preparing a deal to lure the player from Spain.
As such, L’Equipe claims Barcelona will let him move on for a fee of around €55m (£46.2m), though City could ask to take him on loan with an option to buy due to concerns over his fitness.
Clement Lenglet has taken Umtiti’s place for both club and country and the player now accepts he will likely need to move to resurrect his faltering career.