Barcelona are ready to react to rumours of Manchester United’s interest in Samuel Umtiti by offering the defender a new contract that bumps up his release clause.
The Frenchman, who has been in superb form for Barcelona this season, has emerged as a top target for Jose Mourinho as he looks to bolster his defence.
Umtiti’s release clause of £53 million would represent something of a bargain even though it would see him eclipse Benjamin Mendy (£52m) as the most expensive defender in history, and would cost significantly less than another long-time target Raphael Varane.
And, according to Spanish newspaper Marca, Barca are wary of losing another key player due to their release clause being triggered – and Umtiti would only cost a quarter of the fee PSG paid for Neymar.
They are also aware that, despite his huge importance to the side, Umtiti is among the lowest paid players in the squad – he earns half as much as Arda Turan, who has not played at all this season.
That could make any offer from United very hard for Umtiti to resist, with Mourinho easily able to double or even triple his wages.
As such, Barcelona hope to offer the centre-back a deal more in line with his new status within the squad, and would also significantly raise the buy-out clause in his contract to put off United and any other suitors.
However, Umtiti is in no hurry to renew his contract – despite feeling increasingly settled at Camp Nou – and only wants to turn his attention to negotiations after the World Cup next summer.
Umtiti has started nine of Barcelona’s 11 La Liga matches this season, helping the side open up a four point lead, and has been ever-present in the Champions League.