?Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde has played down rumours claiming Samuel Umtiti could leave the club.
The France international has become a fixture in the Catalan giants’ starting XI but has been linked with a move to Manchester City, who are looking to bolster their options at centre-back.
However, when asked about Umtiti’s future, Valverde insisted the 24-year-old is happy at Camp Nou.
He said, as quoted by ?Football Espana: “Umtiti? We do not worry about what others do, but he is clearly a great defender who we want to have for a long time.
“We are happy with him, we think he is happy in Barcelona and want to stay, and it does not matter what a clause is if he does not want to leave. Release clauses in Spain work this way and often can create difficulties, we are calm.”
Umtiti joined Barcelona in 2016 from Lyon in a deal worth €25m and has impressed, making 62 appearances in all competitions and starting regularly alongside club stalwart Gerard Pique.
His good form in Spain has earned him more appearances for the France national team, making 10 appearances in 2017 and scoring in the 3-2 friendly win over England in June.
Umtiti has faced competition for his place from the injury-prone Thomas Vermaelen and 33-year-old Javier Mascherano, who is expected to leave Barcelona in the summer and has been linked with a return to former club Liverpool.
Umtiti’s Barcelona are currently top of La Liga, nine points clear of second placed Atletico Madrid and face Chelsea in the next round of the Champions League.