Samuel Umtiti 'broke down in tears' during meeting with Laporta about injury problems
Umtiti is probably the least popular member of the Barcelona squad right now
Samuel Umtiti's stock at Barcelona has fallen almost as hard as the club's share price in recent years. After two excellent seasons with the club between 2016 and 2018, he won the World Cup with France and was widely regarded as one of the best defenders in world football. But since reaching the pinnacle of the game, a chronic knee problem has seen him struggle for fitness and game time.
Consequently, his wages have been a drain on Barcelona's finances, with fans of the club growing increasingly frustrated with his refusal to do the club a favour and leave. They even boo him when he warms up on the touchline.
Samuel Umtiti was ‘upset’ when Barcelona fans booed him during their victory over Getafe.
Ronald Koeman has been accused of sending Umtiti out to warm up with the sole intention of getting booed. pic.twitter.com/Wmy2QLoZK5
— FootballJOE (@FootballJOE) August 31, 2021
While the narrative around Umtiti has been focused on his refusal to leave, a significant part of his story had been ignored, until now.
A report in Catalan based newspaper Mundo Deportivo states that the defender had a meeting with club president Joan Laporta in August, during which he explained how much effort he had put into reaching full fitness and broke down in tears when recounting the difficulties he has faced during his time on the sidelines.
Umtiti called the meeting when anger towards him from the fans was at an all time high so he could put his side of the story to the club's board.
As well as Laporta, sports vice president, Rafa Yuste, and the football director, Mateu Alemany, were present at the meeting.
The encounter is reported to have begun with Laporta being very critical of Umtiti's conduct, and blaming the Frenchman for running his contract down when he was almost certain not to play.
But throughout the course of this discussion, Umtiti explained that the club's medical staff had not been able to properly identify the problem in his knee, and only offered him operations that posed serious risks to his future health and fitness.
Umtiti also explained that he had sought medical advice elsewhere, out of his own pocket, in a bid to overcome the injury obstacles that have plagued the last few years of his career.
Laporta then acknowledged that the club might have failed to support their player at his lowest moment, at which point Umtiti reportedly began to cry, finally relieved that someone was accepting of his side of the story.
The pair then hugged and Laporta have Umtiti his word that he would speak to Ronald Koeman about the situation, to try to ensure that he dealt with it sensitively.
Will this make Barça fans any more sympathetic to Umtiti in the coming weeks? Only time will tell.