Samuel Umtiti has received a rapturous reception upon his arrival in Italy at new club Lecce after arriving at the Serie A club on a season-long loan from Barcelona.
The World Cup-winning Frenchman was mobbed by fans and media before speaking passionately about the opportunity to get his career back on track after spending much of the last few seasons in Catalonia on the treatment table.
Umtiti had been regarded as one of the best young defenders in the world when he first joined Barcelona in 2016, having been named in the UEFA Champions League Breakthrough XI during his first season at the club.
Breaking into the first team at Lyon aged just 18, Umtiti was quickly recognised as one of Ligue 1’s hottest prospects and was rewarded for his good form with a call up to the national team during the European Championships in 2016.
After making the move to the Nou Camp that summer, Umtiti would retain his place in Didier Deschamps’ France squad for the World Cup, battling through injuries to feature in all but one of the team’s games as France lifted the trophy.
Victory in Moscow would ultimately prove to be bittersweet for Umtiti however, as his injury issues would continue to haunt him domestically leading the centre-back to make just 15 appearances in all competitions for the Blaugrana in 2018/19.
Umtiti appeared close to tears at the reception he received after arriving at new club Lecce
In the years since, Umtiti has yet to make more than 15 league appearances in a single campaign and last season he was restricted to just a single appearance in all competitions as he started against Osasuna back in December.
Despite the club’s well publicised financial issues this summer, the loan agreement between Barcelona and Lecce will see the La Liga giants pay the entirety of Umtiti’s wages during his spell at the Stadio Via del mare.
While injuries have undoubtedly derailed a once-promising career, the 28-year-old will be hoping that he can use his spell in Serie A to return to his World Cup-winning form.