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Samuel Umtiti reflects on Barcelona struggles: “I was in prison for four years”

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Photo by PAU BARRENA/AFP via Getty Images

As he nears the end of his splendid loan spell at Lecce, Samuel Umtiti has opened up about a few things, especially during his time at Barcelona, in a recent interview.

“In Barcelona, I spent 4 years in prison. I just wanted to feel appreciated and respected,” Umtiti said (h/t Diario AS), revealing how he was not trusted with the Barça camp.

“At the beginning, after my move to Spain, I felt appreciated and I played at a good level. Then I started to feel distrustful, I felt bad and I realised that nobody believed in me anymore,” he added.

Umtiti featured in 133 competitive matches for Barcelona before he joined Lecce on loan last summer. But the majority of those appearances came during the first few years of his spell, as the defender had struggled with injuries for the large part of his time at Camp Nou.

However, since making the move to Lecce, the Frenchman has revived himself, even becoming one of Lecce’s top performers this season.

“Starting in Lecce was a challenge for me. I know very well that to be successful, in this stage of my career, is worth a championship. It’s good because in Salento I found my smile again and I’m grateful to the fans for that,” he said.

Unsurprisingly, Lecce are exploring the possibility of signing Umtiti on a permanent deal this past season. But it could be economically tricky for the Italian minnows, which has led to links to Olympique Lyon.

Alexandre Lacazette has recently revealed his desire to have a reunion with Umtiti at Lyon next season. Talking about Lacazette’s comments, the defender said, “Some time ago, my friend Lacazette came to see me on the Via del Mare. We thought that, before we retired, it would be good to play a bit more together!”

However, for the time being, Umtiti will be focused on ending the season on a positive note with Lecce and helping the team avoid relegation. “Now I’m only thinking about avoiding relegation with Lecce,” he said.

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