Umtiti declares love for Barcelona putting an end to Manchester United romance

Alex Broun 5/04/2018
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Samuel Umtiti displaying just how much the Barca jersey means to him

France international Samuel Umtiti has dashed the dreams of Manchester United fans by declaring his “love” for Barcelona.

Recently linked with a move to Old Trafford, his actions now suggest his long-term future lies not in the north of England but at the Camp Nou.

After forcing Juventus defender Kostas Manolas to put through his own net in Barca’s 4-1 Champions League quarter-final win over Roma on Wednesday night, the 24-year-old centre-half grabbed the Barcelona emblem on his shirt in a message to both clubs.

The passionate gesture comes amid intense transfer talk linking him with an imminent move away from the Catalan giants.

With the release clause in his current contract set at just €60 million, the defender’s future at Camp Nou is called into question on a regular basis.

United manager Jose Mourinho is reported to be plotting a summer approach, and Umtiti had recently admitted to interest being shown in his services.

He was recently quizzed on his links to Old Trafford and revealed that the Red Devils are only one of several teams to be keeping a close eye on his situation.

“It’s not only Manchester United, other clubs want me as well,” he said.

“Negotiations for a contract renewal have not started yet.

“My release clause is low, but that’s not what I worry about, I focus on the pitch.”

The specific mention of the release clause seemed to say to potential suitors: “I’m affordable – come get me.”

It seems however that Umtiti’s true desire is to stay in Spain and that his comments were actually designed to speed up new contract talks with Barca.

“It’s a celebration like any other, I just wanted to say how much I love this club,” Umtiti explained to beIN Sports after the match.

“I just play, try to do things right. This is the most important thing for me. I try to do it for a club like Barca, and continue to do it.

“As for everything else, these are things that come out in the press. Some are true, others wrong, but I just focus on football.”

Barca boss Ernesto Valverde said prior to the clash with Roma that he remains upbeat about extension talks with Umtiti.

“What I understand, and I know, is that he is very happy here and we are very happy with him,” said the Blaugrana boss.

“We hope the negotiations will come to fruition and that he will be able to continue for many years here.”

Following Wednesday night that  looks more than a distinct possibility.

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Sergio Busquets reportedly prepared to take injections to play for Barcelona against Roma

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Sergio Busquets (r) in Barcelona training.

Barcelona defensive midfielder Sergio Busquets is prepared to take a pain-killing injection and ensure a fractured toe does not keep him out of Wednesday night’s Champions League quarter-final opener against Roma, according to AS.

Busquets, 29, suffered the injury during Barca’s 3-0 last-16 winner against Chelsea last month. This saw him miss Spain’s friendlies against Germany and Argentina, plus last Saturday’s 2-2 draw at Sevilla for the runaway La Liga leaders.

He trained with the squad in Tuesday’s final session before the meeting with the Giallorossi, with medical staff advising he should take an injection if he wants to play.

Busquets is now expected to start the tie.

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Barcelona 'haven't won anything yet', reminds Ernesto Valverde ahead of Champions League quarter-final

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Ernesto Valverde says Barcelona will not take Roma lightly.

Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde says Wednesday’s home first leg will not be decisive in their Champions League quarter-final tie against Roma.

“I doubt very much that the tie will be won in the first leg,” the manager said during Tuesday’s press conference.

“Given the level of our opponents, it would be useful not to concede and still win, but we are aware that playing a good match won’t be enough.”

Roma topped a group that also had Chelsea and Atletico Madrid before beating Shakhtar Donetsk in the first knockout round to reach this stage.

“Watching their group games, it wasn’t a surprise that Roma were top, nor is it a surprise that they are in the quarter-finals,” Valverde said.

“They play to attack and defend with solidarity.

“We will have difficulty progressing. It is an attractive knockout tie.

“We face it with enthusiasm and a 50 percent chance of winning, just like them.”

The 54-year-old insists nobody at Barcelona is taking Roma lightly despite their status as the clear favourites to progress to the semi-finals.

“I don’t think that Roma are being belittled inside our dressing room.

“It seems that this game has already been won by our name, but it isn’t like that.

“Roma have a good positional game, they try to carry the weight of the game, their strategy is strong and they develop pressure well. Also, they are very offensive, so we will have to defend well.”

Valverde was also quick to remind everyone that despite Barcelona’s record this season – they are unbeaten in La Liga and have reached the Copa del Rey final – the side are yet to win anything, and are motivated by the hunger to finish the season with major honours in tow.

“We are very excited to win something,” the Spaniard stated.

“We haven’t won anything yet.

“We want to have the chance to win everything we can. The truth is that we have a lot of enthusiasm this season, to try and win titles.”

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