The French defender admits there were talks of a Camp Nou exit over the summer with a reunion at his former club on the cards
Barcelona centre-back Samuel Umtiti has revealed he did consider leaving the club in recent months but is determined to secure a departure on better terms.
After failing to win a trophy last season, it was a summer of upheaval at Camp Nou with Ronald Koeman coming in as coach and Lionel Messi sensationally requesting to leave.
The 26-year-old spent 14 years at Lyon before moving to Barcelona in 2016 and has found the past few seasons in Spain particularly hard as he’s battled injuries and poor form.
Yet to feature for Koeman’s side this season, Umtiti revealed his brief temptation to leave the club over the summer, only to realise his desire to stay.
“Everything was possible during the transfer window. Lyon is my club and my city. They gave me the opportunity to be seen,” Umtiti told Canal +.
“There were discussions, but it was quick, nothing concrete. I had to be able to speak with a club. I’ll be honest: Barcelona is Barcelona. I don’t want to leave Barcelona and even less like that.
“The last two years have been the most complicated of my career. Sometimes I got really sick of it. I relapsed each time, and with different injuries because I was trying to compensate. It wasn’t a knee problem, it was that I had a total imbalance. I had to start over.
“I stopped eating meat, fish and milk. I feel better, I sleep better. I have never felt so good physically. My body has also changed. I have lost three kilos. I have recovered. I have never worked so hard. And I’m happy about it.”
On Messi’s own request to leave Barcelona, Umtiti added: “It has been an eventful summer. For me and the club. It made me feel weird to read this: Leo wanted to leave. He has his reasons. But to imagine Barca without Messi is impossible.”
Umtiti has formed a strong connection with French team-mates Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele at Camp Nou, with the trio able to find the lighter side of the criticism they have all been subject to at times.
“With Antoine and Ousmane, we are often together. We have all lived through complicated times,” Umtiti said.
“Everyone puts knives behind our backs and wants to kill us. But, between us, we try to laugh to help make us smile again.”