In an exclusive interview with Mundo Deportivo, center back Samuel Umtiti shared some revealing insides about his injury plagued years at Barcelona. As always, Blaugranagram delivers the parts you want to hear, but you can watch the interview in its entirety by clicking here (bottom of the page).
Since arriving from Lyon in 2016, the 27 year old frenchman has experienced the highs and lows of a professional athlete’s life. From being regarded as one of the worlds elite defenders to being greeted by deafening whistles by his own fans.
How is life in Barcelona?
I like to be home by myself. From time to time i’m with my friends from France but I’m mostly alone. I don’t go out a lot. Sometimes i go out for dinner with my mates”.
How was it to lose Messi?
Of course it’s difficult, but life goes on. We now have to play differently. If we play as a team we can beat anyone”.
Why do you think Barcelona suffers so many big digit losses in the Champions League?
In todays football it’s more difficult to win. Football has changed and we have to change too. We have to play with much higher intensity and better tactical positioning.
How are you feeling yourself, footballing wise?
“Right now I’m feeling good. I’m training well and i want to play. I’m waiting for my time. Physically I’m feeling good”.
“Mentally it’s been hard dealing with being in and out of the team. I’ve just got to continue working.
If you’re in top shape, why are you not playing games?
“There’s a coach who makes the decisions and i have to accept that. If i don’t play i have to train harder than the others and show that i have what it takes.”
“I was left without a holiday because i was having two training sessions a day to get in top shape (…) I thought i played well in pre-season. I can work every day but I’m lacking match rhythm.
Is Koeman being fair on the amount of playing time you’re getting?
“I hope so. Everyone has seen that i have trained hard and changed for the better. I’m waiting for my chance”.
Have you asked the coach about this?
“I can’t ask for anything. The coach makes the decisions, and i just have to work to show what i can do”.
“I spoke to Koeman about it. I think i arrived in pre-season with enthusiasm and i wanted to know what the coach thought of me. We are six center backs and i knew my playtime was going to be limited. But when i have a goal and intent to reach it”.
Would you consider leaving Barcelona?
“I’ve had multiple offers from other clubs but I don’t see myself playing for any other club. I want to show my worth here. (…) I’m sure I’ll be here until my contract ends in 2023.”
Do you think the fans appreciate your effort?
“Nobody knows what I’m doing. Football and Barcelona is my life. I have to outwork everyone. Because i don’t do interviews people think I’m on the couch all day, when I’m training hard every day”.
Did getting whistled affect you?
“Honestly, yes. I never thought it could happen to me because I love this club. I’ve had injuries, but I’m doing everything to get back at my best. At the end of the day, the most important thing is that i give everything for the club”.
“I’m in the best shape i’ve ever been in. I’ve changed everything from the way I’m training to my diet. I’m stronger and faster than ever”.
What happened with your injury before and after the 2018 World Cup?
“I had some discomfort but i was able to go (to the world cup). I then had to do treatment after the tournament. With the treatment there were things we did well and things that didn’t go according to plan. That’s why I’ve been plagued with setbacks for the last 3-4 years. (…) It took a lot of mental strength to endure this. Some tell you one thing and others tell you another thing. (…) At the beginning i was depressed”.
“Lies were spread about me not listening to the club. We made a decision together. I didn’t want to have surgery and they said that was alright. That was that”.
“I visited three or four doctors who all said that i didn’t have to operate. I took the decision not to operate because there was a risk with my cartilage”. (…) I don’t regret not doing surgery”.
Many people might think it doesn’t matter to you whether you’re playing or not when you’re taking home a big pay check anyway
“Football for me is the pitch. Money is a part of it. I’m doing everything to be in top shape, but because i don’t talk, people think I’m on my couch all day”.
Does Ousmane Dembele want to stay at Barcelona?
“I think so. He’s happy and working hard every day. But he needs time (to get back to his best).”