Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has reportedly set his sights on signing Barcelona’s Samuel Umtiti after dropping his long-term pursuit of Raphael Varane. The Portuguese tactician has courted a keen interest in Real Madrid’s Varane for a while, but a deal looks highly unlikely, with the centre-back having established himself as a regular at the Bernabeu, The Mirror claims.
As a result, Mourinho has switched his attention towards Umtiti, who he feels is worth more than the £53m($70m) release clause on his Barcelona contract. The former Lyon man played second fiddle to Javier Mascherano for the initial part of 2016/17 season, but he has since commanded a regular spot alongside Gerard Pique.
At just 23, Umtiti has progressed into one of La Liga’s leading defenders, and he is being eyed as a potential partner for Eric Bailly in United’s backline. Both Phil Jones and Chris Smalling have tended to have fitness concerns under Jose Mourinho while Victor Lindelof has been a huge disappointment since his summer switch from Benfica.
Despite the speculation, United are likely to face a stiff challenge of luring the Frenchman in January, with Barcelona possessing limited resources in central defence. Aside from Umtiti, the Catalan giants have the likes of Mascherano and Thomas Vermaelen in reserve – both of whom are no longer in peak form.