France defender Samuel Umtiti believes training alongside Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar at Barcelona is developing his game rapidly.
Umtiti joined Barca during the close season and impressed after breaking into Les Bleus’ starting line-up at Euro 2016.
His is back with the national team for Friday’s World Cup qualifier against Sweden and subsequent friendly versus Ivory Coast and he reflected positively on the early days of his Camp Nou career.
“[Being at Barcelona] changes me and I am very happy to be there,” the centre-back told a news conference.
“It’s amazing [playing alongside Messi, Suarez and Neymar]. It is a pleasure to train with them every day.
“They are exceptional. It makes me grow as well. You really are focused and apply yourself all the time.
“It is for all these reasons I went to Barcelona.”
The Barca faithful have warmed to Umtiti after some solid initial displays and the 22-year-old has dedicated himself to adapting to the club’s famed style of play with plenty of study away from the field.
“I try to play naturally. The most important thing is to remain efficient and this is not easy because Barca plays completely differently [to Lyon],” he explained.
“To adapt quickly I had to watch videos, I am learning their playing system. That is why the fans like me.
“It surprised me that my name was applauded at several matches. I must stay focused on my goal.”
He added: “The intelligence of their game requires a lot of thinking about positioning. You have to adapt. For a defender, it’s complicated to play at Barcelona.”
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