Samuel Umtiti’s departure in the latter stages of the summer transfer window was one of the most significant pieces of business for FC Barcelona.
The defender, who was regarded only as a fringe player under Xavi Hernandez, was sent to Lecce on a season-long loan deal. Offloading him from the squad was crucial in helping Barcelona free up space in the squad and subsequently bring in a couple of new players on deadline day.
However, even after almost two months into the new season, Umtiti is yet to feature in a single game for Lecce. The defender has featured on the bench for six consecutive league matches, with coach Marco Baroni and the medical staff opting not to take unnecessary risks with the player’s health.
Federico Baschirotto and former Borussia Dortmund star Marin Pongracic have been the two first-choice options for Baroni so far this campaign. However, Umtiti’s unfortunate spell could soon come to an end, if reports from L’Equipe are to be believed.
The French news outlet suggests Umtiti will be handed his Lecce debut as the club take on AS Roma later today. It appears the Italian outfit, who had denied Umtiti any game time fearing the defender’s health, now believe the Frenchman is ready for first-team action.
His debut could see him start alongside Baschirotto at the heart of Lecce’s four-man backline. Umtiti’s vast experience at the highest level of football could go a long way in helping Lecce contain a talented Roma frontline boasting the services of players such as Andrea Belotti and Paulo Dybala.
However, with Umtiti yet to start a single game so far this season, it will not come as a surprise to see the defender appearing from the bench rather than outrightly finding himself in the starting eleven.