Thursday 5 April 2018

Samuel Umtiti declares love for Barca after Roma rout

Barcelona defender Samuel Umtiti says he grabbed the badge on his shirt during Wednesday’s Champions League win over Roma to demonstrate his commitment to the club.

Umtiti celebrated Barca’s second goal at the Camp Nou by pulling at his badge and pointing to it after his shot had cannoned in off the post and then Roma’s Kostas Manolas.

The 24-year-old’s future has grown uncertain as talks with Barcelona over a new contract have failed to reach a resolution.

Umtiti also caused a stir last week by admitting to French broadcaster Canal Plus that he had offers to leave and his 60-million-euro release clause is “not very big”.

But, as the Catalans beat Roma 4-1 to all-but secure their spot in the semi-finals, Umtiti took the chance to make a gesture of loyalty.

“I just wanted to say that I love this club. I have not much more to add,” Umtiti told beIN Sports.

“I just play, push myself and try do well. That is the most important thing for me. To do it at a club like Barca, that’s what I try to do and try to keep doing.

“Afterwards, the rest are things that come out in the press, some are true and some false, but I focus on football.”

Umtiti has been one of Barca’s star players this season but his form has dipped in recent weeks and he was fortunate not to be punished by Roma for a miscontrol in the second half.

Asked about the Frenchman’s performances, coach Ernesto Valverde said: “I have no doubt that he is one of the best central defenders in the world.”

Manolas’ own-goal was the second of the night after Daniele De Rossi had already stabbed into his own net to give Barca the lead.

Gerard Pique made it three before Edin Dzeko pulled one back for the visitors, but Luis Suarez wrapped up the victory, and perhaps the tie, by adding a fourth late on.

Suarez’s goal ended his European drought that had stretched to Champions League 10 matches.

“In the league at the beginning of the season he also had trouble scoring goals,” Valverde said.

“It was also a recurring question and now he can’t stop scoring. What we appreciate is the work he does.”

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