In the wake of Lille OSC’s late collapse against Stade Rennais on Saturday, new signing Samuel Umtiti (29) opened up about his leadership role at his new club but sought to highlight the need for collective responsibility.
When Umiti left Olympique Lyonnais to join Barcelona back in 2012, he was the inexperienced player. However, 11 years later, he returns to Ligue 1 having accrued experience in La Liga, Serie A, whilst also winning the World Cup with France back in 2018. Especially alongside the inexperienced Leny Yoro (17), Umtiti is expected to be a leader in this youthful side, a role which the former Lyon player assumes.
“The young players are listening; it’s easy for me. The group works well, but I quickly realised that this team lacked a bit of leadership, and calmness as well. Some lack it in difficult situations. I have this role to bring,” he said in a post-match press conference transcribed by L’Équipe.
However, Umtiti doesn’t seek to exaggerate his influence and calls on others in the club to be equally vocal. “Everyone brings their experience. I am not the good lord. Will I change everything? No. We all need to listen, me or Leny, when he speaks on the pitch as well. I told him that I don’t care about age. He needs to speak as well because, at the back, we see everything. This team needs to become more mature. I need to bring my bit so that the team understands that to win, sometimes you have to be a ‘dog,’ and that we kind of don’t care about the beautiful game,” said the former Barcelona defender.
Umtiti’s debut for Les Dogues ended in a draw. After goals from Leny Yoro and Bafodé Diakité, goals from Lorenz Assignon and Ibrahim Salah pegged Paulo Fonseca’s side back. Lille are currently fifth in Ligue 1 with two wins, two draws, and one defeat in the opening five days.
GFFN | Luke Entwistle