Former Barcelona star Eric Abidal has hailed Lyon defender Samuel Umtiti as "world class", amid reports linking the player with a summer move to the Nou Camp or Tottenham Hotspur. Abidal adds that it "will be really tough" for Lyon to let him go as the 22-year-old versatile defender has turned into a key player for the Ligue 1 side.
Abidal made the move from Lyon to the Nou Camp in 2007, developing into a crucial figure for the Catalans' back-line during the Pep Guardiola era. He helped the club win two Champions Leagues and four La Liga title in six campaigns during his time there.
Reports in Spain have earmarked Umtiti to follow in Abidal's footsteps, with the defender able to play both as a left-back and in the heart of defence.
Abidal has now suggested that the defender would be ready for the step up to Barca's level, calling him "world class".
"He is world-class," the Frenchman said to Lyon's official website. "That's why he's a starter at a club like OL. He has a lot of qualities, I really wish him the very best for the years to come. He's such an important player that it would be really tough for OL to let him go."
Tottenham Hotspur boss Mauricio Pochettino revealed last week that Spurs are also monitoring Umtiti ahead of the summer transfer window.
The defender said: "It's flattering. He [Pochettino] is a manager that I appreciate. As well as that, his team are performing well. But beyond that, my aim really is to finish the season well at Lyon.
"Like I've said several times, there will be discussions with my club [at the end of the season] to know how to go forward on a personal level and with Lyon. I watch all the leagues but I find that the Spanish league suits me a lot more in relation to my qualities."