Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde is unsure about whether or not he will dip into the transfer market to sign defensive cover for Samuel Umtiti in January.
The centre-back will miss the next few weeks of action with a persistent knee problem, although the Frenchman has decided against surgery and will instead follow a conservative treatment plan after discussions with Blaugrana medical staff.
Barca have been scouring the market for a defender for some time and will now put all appropriate measures in place so that a replacement can be signed urgently if Umtiti’s knee problems persist.
Their main target is Ajax’s Matthijs de Ligt but ahead of Sunday’s La Liga clash with Villarreal at the Camp Nou, Valverde said he was unsure about buying some defensive cover in January.
“Until the transfer window comes along we have to go with the players we’ve got and the B team,” said Valverde.
“But we’ll see how Umtiti’s injury develops over the next few weeks, let’s be optimistic and hope he’s back sooner rather than later and we can use him. We don’t really know if we will have to go the market or not. Thankfully we have time.
“We do know there’s a winter transfer window coming up. So we’ll need to look at the situation, we can’t wait for five months, we need a strong team. We think we’ll get Umtiti back before the end of the season.”
Valverde was warm in his praise of Umtiti, adding: “Umtiti is a very important player for us. We hope he will be able to recover and help us throughout the season. It is important in these cases that the player feels safe when he makes a decision.
“He has to think about what is best for him. We’ll have to see how things work out, it’s not a simple situation but that’s what we’ve got. It’s the player who ultimately has the last word.”
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