Lyon sporting director Juninho has addressed the possibility of the club signing Barcelona star Samuel Umtiti, suggesting that they could open to the idea if he accepts a drastic salary cut.
Barcelona is currently undergoing a major revamp, with several players not included in coach Ronald Koeman’s plans, including the 26-year-old center-back, linked to a move away from Camp Nou this summer. However, clubs showing interest are put off by his €194,600 ($230,000) weekly rate, including Ligue 1 giant Olympique Lyonnais, Umtiti’s former club.
Juninho recently weighed in on the Barca star’s situation in an interview with RMC Sport, where he was asked about the possibility of Umtiti coming back. The Lyon sporting director confirmed a move would not be possible at the moment as the club cannot afford him.
However, he appeared to suggest that he would make an offer if Umtiti, who still has two years left in his contract with Barcelona, or any of their targets were willing to compromise and agree to a wage cut and a longer contract.
“But as long as you look at the contract level of these players, like at Juventus or Barça, it’s not for us today,” Juninho said. “Today we have to tell the truth, we cannot pay the salary of an Umtiti. But if the player is looking for a project, if he makes an effort with perhaps a longer contract, if he wants to go home, and then I will look for him immediately.”
When asked if he has talked to Umtiti and proposed this deal, Juninho said, “We did not advance to that level.”
Umtiti’s brother and agent, Yannick Umtiti, is also open to the possibility of the center-back returning to Lyon despite the player being adamant about remaining in Barcelona. But like Juninho, he also thinks that Umtiti’s current salary poses a problem.
“Samuel does not want to leave Barça this summer,” Yannick told Foot01.com. “However, taking into account the club’s willingness to bring about change, it may be necessary to consider alternatives in accordance with the goals that the player has set for himself. The OL [Olympique Lyonnais] rumor is good, but unfortunately has very little chance of materializing.”
Signed by Barcelona in June 2016, Umtiti was tasked to intensify the club’s defense. He emerged as one of Barca’s most promising rising stars before being hindered by a series of devastating injuries.
Last season, shortly after being ruled out once again due to a knee injury on July 3, Umtiti posted a heartbreaking message on his Instagram Stories that appeared to be related to his situation at Barcelona.
“I wish I could go back to the past, not to change things, but to relive the time when I was happy and didn’t know it,” Umtiti wrote in the post obtained by Barca Blaugranes.