Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas has promised Samuel Umtiti he can leave the Ligue 1 outfit after reports in France suggested his transfer to Barcelona in a €30m (£24.7m) deal has already been agreed. The French side appear to be planning for life after the defender already, with the club chief's comments coming in a press conference to unveil their latest signing, former Marseille centre-back Nicolas Nkoulou.

Umtiti has been linked with a move away from Lyon in recent months, with the 22-year-old garnering a reputation as one of the most promising centre-backs in Europe.

In April Tottenham Hotspur boss Mauricio Pochettino revealed Spurs were closely monitoring the player, with a view to luring him to White Hart Lane.

In early June, Mundo Deportivo claimed both Arsenal and Chelsea were interested in bringing the player to the Premier League, but in recent weeks Barcelona have been tipped as his most likely destination.

Luis Enrique has been keen to bolster his back-line with a new centre-back to give Javier Mascherano competition for a spot alongside Gerard Pique. Umtiti has been seen as his number one target due to complications with deals for the likes of Paris Saint-Germain star Marquinhos and Athletic Club Bilbao's Aymeric Laporte.

Umtiti has done little to deny the rumours, admitting every footballer would like to play for Barcelona.

The move seemed to take a move closer to completion on Tuesday, when Aulas revealed Lyon have signed Nkoulou from Marseille as a potential replacement.

L'Equipe reported on Wednesday morning that a deal between Barcelona and Lyon has been completed, with the Catalans agreeing to pay €30m for his services.

However Aulas, speaking during the presentation of Nkoulou, said no agreement had yet been made – but admitted he would not block Umtiti's departure from the Nou Camp.


"We have promised Samuel we will to let him go if he could play for the club of his heart. Nothing has been decided yet but if the three parties come to an agreement it is possible that he leaves us. He gets all my support if it is a club he wants to play for," the president said, as quoted by the club's official website.

Many are suggesting Barcelona are waiting for the end of Euro 2016 to announce the transfer. Lyon manager Bruno Genesio has said he would like to see Umtiti in the France first team in the quarter-final with Iceland, replacing the suspended Adil Rami.

"I have great trust in him, his qualities and his character. I am sure he will be ready for the challenge. He is very mature despite his young age. He has the qualities of the modern defender. He is a great competitor. I hope he will be chosen [to replace Rami]. I'm not at all surprised to see him at this level,"Genesio said.