France international Samuel Umtiti has said that his four years at Barcelona were like years spent in prison, not just as a footballer, but from every aspect of his life.
Umtiti was signed by Olympique Lyonnais in 2016 and was expected to be the rock in Barcelona’s backline.
Having failed to meet the high expectations in Camp Nou, the Frenchman joined the ranks of Lecce on loan, a team fresh from their promotion into Serie A and scrapping fiercely for survival.
For Umtiti, the transition from Barcelona to the Italian upstart team was a sporting decision and a bid for personal redemption.
He told Canal+, “It felt like four years of being imprisoned at Barcelona, not just on a sporting level, but in my everyday life too.
“I was really in a bad way, I preferred to stay out of everyone’s way. At the start, I felt good and performed at a high level, but then I started to feel some diffidence towards me and realised then that nobody believed in me anymore.
“It was a challenge for me, I needed to feel appreciated, respected and just useful,” he added, saying that he understands that fighting to avoid relegation is not the same as winning a title, as is usually the case at Barcelona.