Barcelona star ‘could miss the rest of the year’

Sant Joan Despi 11 09 2017 Deportes Messi Umtiti Dembele Suarez y Andre Gomes durante la sesion de entrenamiento previa al debut del FC Barcelona esta temporada en la liga de campeones contra la Juventus Fotografia de Jordi Cotrina

Barcelona’s World Cup-winning defender Samuel Umtiti’s knee injury is not healing as planned and he may be forced to undergo surgery which would put him out of action until 2019, Spanish media reported on Thursday.

The France centre back has not played for the La Liga champions since their shock 2-1 defeat by Leganes on September 26, with Barca saying he was out of action due to discomfort in his left knee.

Barcelona-based newspaper Sport said on Thursday that the injury is taking longer to clear up than expected, and Umtiti and the club must decide whether to opt for knee surgery, which would leave him on the sidelines for several months, or to undergo treatment to regenerate the cartilage.

Spanish daily Mundo Deportivo said Umtiti is expected to miss Barca’s top-of-the-table clash with Sevilla on October 20 and El Clasico against Real Madrid on October 28, as well as the Champions League home game against Inter Milan on October 24.

Barca are second in the La Liga table but have the worst defensive record of the top eight teams in the league, having shipped nine goals in eight games.

They have conceded 12 goals in 11 matches in all competitions.

Ernesto Valverde’s side are without a win in their last four league games.