Arsenal and Man City vying for top Lyon talent Samuel Umititi
A gaggle of top Premier League clubs are said to be circling for Lyon centre back Samuel Umtiti, with Arsenal, who are 10/3 with Coral to win the FA Cup, apparently leading the chase.
Versatile Umtiti can also be deployed as a left back and has been instrumental in the French giants’ resurgence, as league leaders Lyon hold the second-best defensive record in Ligue 1.
Currently sitting top, above nouveau riche club PSG, the Kids would be loathe to lose one of their prize assets.
However, Cameroon-born Umtiti is a current France under-21 international and is said to be eager to establish himself in the senior squad of his adoptive country.
Part of an impressive crop of fledgling current and future Les Bleus defenders, including peers such as Kalidou Koulibaly, Aymeric Laporte, Eliaquim Mangala, Raphael Varane and Kurt Zouma, Umtiti would not want to fall behind his contemporaries.
Umtiti’s powerful performances have attracted interest across Europe, but it is believed Premier League clubs, including the Gunners, Manchester City, Southampton and Everton are tracking the 21-year-old intently.
It is perhaps Tottenham fans who will remember Umititi the most clearly, though, after the youngster struck a stunning strike against Spurs in the Europa League back in 2013.
Despite his heroics in that game, Umtiti is a no-nonsense centre back capable of providing a solid backbone for his more technically gifted teammates to build upon.
A Lyon academy graduate, Umtiti has worked his way up the ranks to form part of a successful spine of young French talents at the club, including attacking stars Alexandre Lacazette and Nabil Fekir.
Should the core of that side be dismantled in summer, Umtiti may also be keen to depart his boyhood club.
Arsenal would seem an ideal fit for the determined defender, with Arsene Wenger still short of reliable options, despite drafting in Gabriel Paulista during the winter window.
City (6/1 to retain the Premier League title) have also suffered from rearguard woes this season, and could have designs on developing a future partnership between Umtiti and Mangala, who has not had an easy introduction to Premier League football.