Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas has admitted the French club will not block the departure of Samuel Umtiti during the coming summer transfer window should the defender ask to leave. However, Aulas denies having already agreed the player's sale to Barcelona – despite reports in Spain claiming the opposite.
The 22-year-old has emerged as Barcelona's top candidate to bolster their back-line due to difficulties in securing other targets, such as Paris Saint-Germain star Marquinhos and Athletic Club Bilbao Aymeric Laporte's (who recently signed a new long-term deal with the Basque side).
In April, Tottenham Hotspur boss Mauricio Pochettino revealed Spurs were also monitoring the situation, while earlier this month Mundo Deportivo claimed both Arsenal and Chelsea were interested in securing his services.
However, recent reports have claimed Umiti will move to the Catalan giants once the French international defender ends his participation in the ongoing European Championship.
Earlier this week Mundo Deportivo reported that Barcelona have already reached an agreement in principle with Lyon to secure his services, following reports that Umtiti has agreed a five-year deal to move to Barcelona worth €25m (£19.2m, $28.2m), plus add-ons of around €5m.
Umtiti did little to dampen speculation while interviewed in the French camp, saying: "Barça are a great club and many players would like to play there. I am handling the rumours well, I am happy to be here[at Euro2016] and I am taking advantage of every moment. My future is being dealt with by my agents. I am not too distracted by that right now, I am focused on this competition."
Aulas has now claimed that the player will decide his future, although there is nothing agreed yet.
"We don't have any need to sell. It's been said we have financial problems, but that's not true. In the case of Samuel, everything will depend on what he decides to do with his future," Aulas said, as quoted by Sport. "We will respect his decision, but as of today, there's nothing, and we are in no rush because he's our player."
Former Newcastle star Hatem Ben Arfa was already linked with a move to Barcelona weeks ago. However, it looks that the interest in the Frenchman has cooled down and his future will now continue else.
Nevertheless, Aulas revealed a message from the player that suggests he could return to Lyon, reading "Hello President. My options are Paris, Lyon and Sevilla. My agents are negotiating."
Aulas expressed his confidence in keeping the player, adding: "If the decision comes from his heart I know where he will go."