Arsenal manager hails Barcelona defender ahead of the summer transfer window

Arsenal manager Unai Emery has praised the qualities of Samuel Umtiti amid suggestions that the Gunners are interested in the Barcelona defender. The France international has endured a tough season with the Blaugrana where he has struggled to regularly make the starting lineup due to form and injury concerns, and this has invited speculation regarding his future.

Speaking to RMC Sport, Emery was asked about the progress of Umtiti at the Camp Nou, where he highlighted that the Frenchman is a very good player, he said: “He’s a very good player [Samuel Umtiti]. France has a lot of very good footballers who are playing abroad. The French league is a very attractive market for a lot of teams. I’ve always had French players in my teams. At Valencia, Sevilla, PSG and here at Arsenal. I’ve always been able to count on those players.”

Umtiti has recently stressed that he has no plans of parting ways with the Spanish champions amid interest from the likes of Arsenal and Manchester United. However, his transfer stance could change ahead of the summer, considering the Blaugrana are considering a move for Ajax’s Mathijhs de Ligt, who could command a regular central defensive role ahead of him.

Nonetheless, the Gunners’ prospects of pursuing the Frenchman may remain dependent on Champions League football, which they have not been able to offer over the past two seasons. The north London club are deemed to have a reduced budget of around £45m for the summer, but the same could be enhanced, should they qualify for next season’s Champions League.

Arsenal are currently three points behind Chelsea for the fourth position with a game in hand. They could as well qualify for the elite competition by winning the Europa League title. They are scheduled to face Napoli at the quarter-final stage of the competition this month.