Arsenal make move for defender – but he won’t come cheap

Arsenal have opened talks with Barcelona over the transfer of Samuel Umtiti, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport.

Unai Emery is keen to bolster his defensive options ahead of next season and has identified Umtiti as his principal target.

The Italian publication report that Gunners director of football Raul Sanllehi has been in contact with his Barcelona counterpart, Eric Abidal, in a bid to steal a march on other interested parties.

Umtiti would not come cheap, though, with the France international tied down to a five-year contract which he only signed last summer.

The World Cup winner’s deal contains a €500m release clause, although Barcelona would consider selling him for less as they look to free up space in their wage bill to land Matthijs de Ligt from Ajax.

Umtiti has endured a frustrating season at the Camp Nou, with injuries restricting him to just eight La Liga starts.

Clement Lenglet has impressed in his absence and Arsenal will hope that the Frenchman is therefore more open to the prospect of a move away, but they would probably have to commit a large chunk of their summer budget to his signing.

Emery’s men take on Newcastle on Monday as they continue their push for a top-four finish.

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