Samuel Umtiti seems to have taken Xavi Hernández’s words on the fly in his presentation to the Barcelona squad on Tuesday, “you all start from scratch”, and in just four days of work with the new coach he has already earned their respect and even a point of surprising admiration.
“He is the first to get to work, on his own, and he does it with a beastly level of demand,” he explained to ESPN Sports a source in the dressing room, where the good attitude of the French central defender has not gone unnoticed.
The player, by himself, starts the activation exercises more than half an hour before the start of the training sessions, while several of his teammates are still in the locker room, and at the beginning of the session itself he is already at full capacity. This circumstance has not gone unnoticed in the eyes of Xavi, who arrived at the club with little optimistic reports regarding Umtiti, and waiting to be able to have the entire squad due to the stoppage of selections that have led to the absence of almost twenty of footballers of the first team, he has earned the respect and consideration of the coach.
So much so that Xavi himself, on Thursday, did not hesitate to personally congratulate him in the locker room in the presence of all his teammates, motivating the smile of the player, convinced that he was in full condition to enter into his plans.
Although he has not had any opportunity since the season began, not being summoned in the first two official matches and remaining on the bench for the subsequent 14 (the last three with Sergi Barjuan at the helm), the French footballer has given to understand Xavi his resolution to earn the right to be taken into account for at least the next two months, until the winter market opens, before checking if the effort has been worth it.
Umtiti, related again in recent days with a possible interest from Benfica to occupy the place of the injured Lucas Veríssimo who has cooled down from the Lisbon club itself, maintains his intention to fulfill the contract that ties him to Barcelona until 2023 and is resolved to show Xavi that his physical conditions are optimal to earn a position in defense.
With Piqué recovering and his presence in the derby against Espanyol not being certain, the coach should have Araújo, Èric García, Lenglet and Mingueza available for next Saturday’s game and that in principle, he would leave Umtiti in last place of his preferences … If his work in recent days and what he can show in the next few days does not mean that, as Xavi said in his presentation, everyone has started from scratch and the French international, who has not played an official match since May 22 and in the last three seasons he participated in 59 games (36 as a starter and 31 of them complete) of the 158 disputed by Barça, earning the right to one last chance on the pitch.