Barça defender Umtiti was a shadow of himself against Villarreal

The Frenchman returned to the starting lineup for the game

Chukwueze puso contra las cuerdas al Barça. Así fue su gran partido | LaLiga

Samuel Umtiti was one of the players singled out for criticism after Barcelona's 4-4 draw with Villarreal. The French defender was exposed by the home team's forwards and it showed that he's not at his best at the moment.

Umtiti's a long way short of the centre-back that Barça fans fell in love with around a year ago. He stood out for his leadership and became one of the best defenders in the world. Since then, a serious knee injury and his reluctance to heed medical advice and have surgery have seen him slump. At the Estadio de la Ceramica, he was a shadow of himself. He was not quick off the mark, nor in the transitions. Ekambi got the better of him and he didn't look good in some of the Villarreal goals.  

It's true that, playing alongside Clement Lenglet, Umtiti played as the right sided centre-back. It's not his best position, as a left footer, but his poor performance wasn't completely to do with his placing on the pitch. The Frenchman was beaten again and again, looked disconnected and unable to deal with Ekambi and Chukwueze, who were much quikcer than him. 

The ball is now back in Ernesto Valverde's court. The Barça coach, as we go into the decisive phase of the season, will have to decide if he gives him another chance. The figure of Matthijs de Ligt is looming on the horizon. With performances like Tuesday's, De Ligt's edging closer and Umtiti's edging away. But he can still fix things -- he will just need another opportunity from Valverde, who's regularly shown that if you're not at the right level, you don't play. 


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