A World Champion with France and a two-time winner of La Liga, Samuel Umtiti is a well-known name around the world.
Umtiti started his career off at Lyon and slowly but surely kept uprising in the game. A bigger transfer was imminent and Barcelona came calling in 2016. where his career blossomed. Until it didn’t.
Samuel Umtiti acclimatised well to life in Spain when he first arrived in the 16/17 season, being at the heart of defence with the then Enrique led Barcelona. He was at one point thought to be among the best central defenders in the world and rightfully so. His mix of combativeness and skill was a joy to watch at the back. Left-footed centre-backs are always a commodity but you could tell he was special even if you didn’t watch much of him. Pinging balls left, right and centre, he claimed his place in the eleven almost immediately.
Samuel Umtiti ultimately won 2 La Ligas and 3 Spanish Cups during his time at Barcelona.
INJURIES AND WORLD CUP GLORY/DOOM
However in 2018, Umtiti picked up a knee injury which could have been treated with surgery, but he instead opted for conservative treatment, and proceeded to play in the 2018 World Cup, which he won with France. However, this choice resulted in the defender spending much of the following season with Barcelona injured.
Samuel Umtiti always remained firm in his belief that no surgery was the better option, speaking for ESPN:
“The easy thing would have been an operation,” he added. “But I’m not like that. I’m strong mentally and I don’t give up, even when it’s tough.
“There were times when I said I should give up and have an operation. But I held out. During that time, I was quite cold and closed. I wasn’t happy. I just wanted to get out of that nightmare.
“But contrary to what certain people have said, I have never been in conflict with my club over the steps to take. They have always listened to what I felt.”
The French international previously had his meniscus removed at the age of 17 and sustained too many infiltrations of cortisone during the World Cup in 2018 because of the constant inflammations in his knee. Umtiti signed a new mega deal with Barca in 2018, despite Barcelona’s medical team advising Barca against offering him a long-term deal but the new 5-year contract was still signed in June 2018, right before the World Cup.
Despite the constant problems, Umtiti never regretted the decision he made.
“I took a risk in the World Cup, I really wanted to play because it is a tournament that it’s played every four years. It was a dream that I fulfilled. I forced my knee in the World Cup but I don’t regret it. However, now I am a FIFA world champion. In life, you have to make decisions and I do not regret this choice”.
The injury and constant fitness issues and injury struggles afterwards meant Umtiti’s Barcelona career was basically over.
The Frenchman joined up with Serie A side Lecce on loan for the 22/23 season and received a second start to his football career.
He made a total of 25 appearances in the Serie A this season and the performances looked promising from what I could see. We’re definitely not talking about the exact same player as before but at 29 years old, he’s still got plenty left in the gas tank. The most important thing was for him to go through the season unfazed and without new injury/fitness struggles. He looked like he’s back to enjoying football again and that was the most important thing if he wants to get back to his old self.
Samuel Umtiti’s Barcelona came to an end recently, with both parties agreeing to a contract termination. Barcelona said their goodbye to the player and thanked for his years of serving the club:
“Barcelona and Umtiti have reached an agreement to release the player from the contract binding him to the club until the end of the 2025/26 season,” a statement from the Catalan club said Friday.
“The club wishes to express its gratitude to Umtiti and wishes him every fortune and success in the future.”
That put an end to his 7 year stay at the club. He made a total of 91 appearances for Barcelona.
🎙️ Retrouve les principales déclarations de la conférence de présentation de Samuel Umtiti ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/83DuAVfimr
— LOSC (@losclive) July 22, 2023
Umtiti then found himself on the market as a free agent but it didn’t take long for someone to snap him up. Lille concluded the deal swiftly and secured his services on a two-year deal. Fonseca will be thrilled to acquire such a presence in his locker room for the new season. Fonseca’s side finished fifth in Ligue 1 last season – meaning they will play in the Europa Conference League Qualifiers – and will look to push themselves even more in the new season.
Here’s what Umtiti had to say in his Lille presentation:
“I am very happy to arrive here, to go back to France. I took this decision because have the same values that this club. The past year had a quite complete season. I felt me very well, I could chain the parties. Physically I am well, I am smart to play”, aimed the Frenchman.
“I know to this team, know to the players, his qualities. I saw a lot of parties the past season. I will come to bring my experience, my qualities. It is a club with big aims, have seen it in the last seasons. The most important is the field, with this mentality to want to win all the parties”, concluded.
We wish Big Sam all the luck in his new adventures, hoping he can get back to his old level quickly. Bonne chance!