A French star who is still contracted to FC Barcelona has now hit out at the club, describing his time there as "four years in prison".
Reports in Spain suggest that as many as 10 players are set to be offloaded by Barca at the end of the season following the imminent departures of co-captains Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba.
Samuel Umtiti, who has spent this season on loan at Serie A side Lecce, is believed to be among the 10 footballers whose futures at the Camp Nou are in doubt, with the side looking to build on their 2022/23 LaLiga triumph.
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The 29-year-old, whose contract in Spain only expires in 2026, has now revealed that about two years after making the move to Catalonia in 2016, life with the Blaugrana became miserable.
"In Barcelona, I spent four years in prison," Umtiti, who has made 133 appearances for Barcelona to date, said, according to Diario AS.
"I just wanted to feel appreciated and respected. At the beginning, after my move to Spain, I felt appreciated and I played at a good level.
"Then I started to feel distrustful, I felt bad and I realised that nobody believed in me anymore.
"Starting in Lecce was a challenge for me. I know very well that to be successful, in this stage of my career, is worth a championship. It's good because in Salento I found my smile again and I'm grateful to the fans for that."
With the 2018 FIFA World Cup winner having been linked with a return to his former club Olympique Lyon, the Ligue 1 outfit's leading marksman Alexandre Lacazette recently revealed his desire to reunite with Umtiti.
"He has shown that he is back and that his body responds. Good for me and for the club if he returns," the former Arsenal striker said of his countryman, according to Mundo Deportivo.
"I don't know who to talk to – about the club – right now, but we will try."
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Reacting Lacazette's comments, the Cameroon-born centre-back said: "Some time ago, my friend Lacazette came to see me on the Via del Mare. We thought that, before we retired, it would be good to play a bit more together!"
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