France defender Samuel Umtiti is in a relaxed mood as he prepares for the World Cup in Russia after signing a contract extension with Barcelona.
The 24-year-old was linked with a move to Manchester United earlier this year but signed a fresh five-year deal at Camp Nou, raising his release clause to a staggering €500million.
Heading into the tournament on the back of a successful campaign with Barcelona, where he won LaLiga and the Copa del Rey, Umtiti will be hoping to improve on his nation’s performances from the European Championships in 2016.
Les Bleus were defeated in the final of their home tournament, with Umtiti then sealing a move from Lyon to Barcelona, and the central defender is pleased he can now focus solely on his football.
“Since my extension, I feel light, I can concentrate only on the field. I had already gone through that [transfers] in the European Championships. It was better to do so [in this way],” the defender told a news conference on Friday.
France begin their World Cup campaign on June 16 against Australia, before clashing with Peru and Denmark, and expectations are high 20 years after the nation’s only World Cup glory.
“In this team, there are quite a few young players but some with experience. We must not force leadership. What makes the strength of this group is unity,” he added.
“We must play seriously but without pressure. We’re looking for landmarks, automatism. This is the purpose of the preparation.”