Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu told Radio Kanal Barcelona the La Liga winners have been following Matthijs de Ligt of Ajax for a ‘long time’.

On the front page of Friday’s edition of Mundo Deportivo, it reads, ‘De Ligt Depends on Umtiti’ and the Blaugrana will prioritise signing the Netherlands international if Samuel Umitit has to go under the knife.

Ernesto Valverde has six defenders at his disposal and this includes the World Cup winner with France, Gerard Pique, Clement Lenglet, Jean-Clair Todibo, Thomas Vermaelen and Jeison Murillo.

The latter two will not be at Camp Nou next season and in normal circumstances, Umtiti will be the first-choice centre-back, if he’s fully fit.

He picked up an injury last September and since then has made only one appearance, which came against Atletico Madrid in November. It’s claimed the 25-year-old wants to force his return against Real Valladolid, but the Spanish champion’s medical team have advised him not to return to action so soon.

Umtiti was advised an operation to resolve persistent problems in the cartilage of the left knee on two occasions in 2018, but he decided against doing so.

Should the former Lyon man be operated on, then he will be out of action for four to five months, meaning he will miss the start of the next season.

Once he returns to action, the defender will not have the same rhythm because Umtiti would have spent a year on the sidelines by then. For this season, Barca’s interest in De Ligt is ‘not hidden’, and he also wants to play for them.

The Dutchman’s agent Mino Raiola’s demands is set to be the ‘biggest obstacle’, while the Ajax star should also accept the club’s economic proposal for the transfer.

Umtiti’s situation is likely to be more clear before the end of the season, which will give an idea if Barcelona should make an approach for De Ligt or not.