Reports: Manchester United to trigger Barcelona superstar's £53 million release clause in January
What's the story?
Oh, Barca... Oh, Barca... when will thou learn?
Despite seeing just how ineffective the release clauses mentioned in their player's contracts are (think Ronaldo - the original, Luis Figo, and of course Neymar) especially compared to Real Madrid who buckle down any half-decent player with a £100 million plus release clause, and that is all set to bite them on their backside yet again.
As per the the good folk over at the Mirror, Jose Mourinho is not at all happy with the personnel he has manning his defence - and seeing United's performance at Chelsea last weekend he's got good reason to be unhappy. While Eric Bailly has impressed, Chris Smalling still looks as error-prone as ever, Victor Lindelof has looked tentative and utterly unimpressive, and Phil Jones is always teetering on the brink of an injury crisis... and so the Portuguese has been looking for a partner for the Ivorian
While his initial target had been Raphael Varane, the Frenchman's €200 million release clause was simply too prohibitively high (see what Madrid did there, Barca?), he has now moved on and focused his sights, and United's transfer kitty, on Samuel Umtiti... who has a relatively 'inexpensive' release-clause of £53 million.
In case you didn't know
Umtiti, signed for £22 million in 2016 from Lyon, struggled at first but soon adjusted to the Catalan's unique style of play and with growing confidence on the ball has become their defensive mainstay. He, along with that unbelievable little man from Rosario, has been Barca's best performer during this scintillating start to the season - and Ernesto Valverde will be loathe to see him leave
The heart of the matter
The Frenchman, though, is reportedly unhappy with his contract - since it's the same that he got when arriving as Javier Mascherano's understudy, and does not take into account the fact that he is now an indispensable member of the starting XI at the Camp Nou.
Here's Umtiti in action
Inspires a whole lot more confidence that Chris Smalling, eh?
While rumours of Umtiti wanting a move away have been floating around Spain a while, and is a reason for United's interest, Ed Woodward and co. will be aware that this might just be a ruse for Umtiti to negotiate a better deal at Barcelona.
If not, though, this could be a massive coup - and with Bailly sharing his mother tongue with Umtiti, communicating between the two wouldn't be much of an issue.