According to reports in France, there’s a queue snaking around the Stade Gerland as Premier League representatives scrap for the services of Lyon defender Samuel Umtiti.
Ferocious talent gobblers of Arsenal, Manchester City and Tottenham’s magnitude have all allegedly taken a liking to the 21-year-old, as have Everton and Southampton.
Lauded for his ball-playing prowess, the centre-back has been a staple in Les Gones’ side for three seasons and is thought to have a harem of suitors stationed across the continent.
But of the reported quintet based in England, which would Umtiti be best served opting for?
Given Everton’s dire straits in the top-flight’s lower echelons, it’s unlikely they could fend off the heavyweights in pursuit, while form suggests matching the high transfer fee Lyon would demand will be a sticking point for the Toffees.
Mega money wouldn’t be an issue for Southampton, but having spent his fledgling career to date missing out on Champions League qualification, Umtiti should be targeting a seat on the continent’s top table when he moves.
The Saints will, therefore, have to secure the top-four finish they’re increasingly unlikely to land if they’re to compete with the three big guns.
Manchester City are the only member of the trio guaranteed to land a spot in Europe’s premier competition and with reserve centre-back Martin Demichelis growing long in the tooth, the Citizens are likely to be in the market for a new stopper this summer.
Regularly competing in over 60 games a season, Umtiti is guaranteed ample playing time even if he isn’t first choice, while Manuel Pellegrini’s recent ruthlessness in axing skipper Vincent Kompany from his starting lineup only enhances his prospects of being selected.
Arsene Wenger’s unwillingness to dissect favoured central pair Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny means this wouldn’t be the case at Arsenal.
The frugal Frenchman shelled out for Gabriel Paulista in January and his perceived aversion for buying defenders will prevent him from signing another possibly for the rest of his career.
Given their ability to pay big wages and desirable location, Spurs a viable option, but Mauricio Pochettino’s insistence on trying out his centre-backs in alien positions should put any defender who has never sampled football in a foreign country off from moving to White Hart Lane.
Strongest centre-back twosome Eric Dier and Jan Vertonghen spent large parts of the season playing at right and left full-back respectively until their frustrations were vented and were reinstated to their preferred berths.