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Nigeria’s Super Eagles have been knocked out of the ongoing 33rd Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) after losing their Round 16 match to Tunisia yesterday.

Youssef Msakni was the hero of the match with his spectacular long-range effort in the second half proved to be the difference between the two perennial foes.

Super Eagles were reduced to ten men after second-half substitute Alex Iwobi was sent off in the 65th minute while another substitute, Sadiq Umar came closest to drawing the Super Eagles late on.

Nigeria dominated most of the possession in the first half but failed to make it count with no clear chance created.

The defeat came after President Muhammadu Buhari made a video call to the team, urging them to sustain their winning momentum at the competition following their 100 percent feat in the group stage.

The President, who had the Sports Minister Sunday Dare beside him while speaking to the players, mentioned Kelechi Iheanacho and Moses Simon by name and urged the team to continue making Nigerians happy by not only winning the second round match against Tunisia, but to eventually lift the trophy.

“I want to thank you for what you have done for the nation so far. You have to keep winning. Nigerians are proud of you,” President Buhari said.

“You have demonstrated patriotic zeal and a high level of discipline, determination and commitment in all the games you have played so far and that is why we all are happy with you.”

He had also assured the team of continued support. “The Government will continue to support you within available resources at our disposal.”

Nigeria expectedly started the strongest and had the first effort of the game when a fortuitous bicycle kick from Wilfred Ndidi went wide early on.

In the 10th minute, Tunisia, who were without seven of their players and the manager due to COVID-19, had the game’s only real chance in the opening 45 minutes but Nigeria’s defence was alert to clear from the line.

A very cautious start to the second match in the round of 16 ends with nothing to separate the two Eagles at the break.

Two minutes after the start of the second half, Tunisia took a shock lead after an Ola Aina mistake. Yourself Msakni took advantage, evaded a Nigerian defender before letting fly from outside the box a shot that goalkeeper Maduka Okoye parried into his net to give Tunisia a 1-0 lead.

The Carthage Eagles grew in confidence after that goal and took control of the game and therefor held on for the win to qualify for the last eight where they will face Burkina Faso who edged out Gabon 7-6 on penalties – after a 1-1 draw – in an epic round of 16 clash at the Limbe Stadium on Sunday evening.

The Stallions really should have won the game in regulation time, having enjoyed a lead established through Bertrand Traore for over an hour (and against a team which was reduced to 10 men), but the Panthers simply refused to be beaten and sent the game to extra time a penalty shootout which went nine rounds before they were finally put away.

Gabon created most of the early play, but did not fashion any clear chances with which to test Burkina Faso goalkeeper Herve Koffi.

The Stallions then won a debatable penalty on 14 minutes, with Issa Kabore’s powerful run down the right ended by a challenge from Sidney Obissa, who was adjudged to have pushed over the Burkinabe attacker by Moroccan referee Redouane Jiyed.

Bertrand Traore took the spot kick, but his left-footed shot rattled the crossbar and rebounded high into the air before being safely cleared from danger.

Source: Leadership News

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Hakim Ziyech lived up to his wizard nickname with a spellbinding strike to sink Tottenham 2-0 at Stamford Bridge in a pivotal Premier League win for Chelsea.

Thiago Silva headed home Mason Mount’s free-kick to cement Chelsea’s third victory over their London rivals this month, after wins in both legs of the Carabao Cup semi-final.

Wily Brazil defender Silva had earlier done just enough after a push from Harry Kane to earn a foul that denied the England captain the game’s opening goal.

Kane tapped past Kepa Arrizabalaga after a light tussle with Silva in the Chelsea box, only to be penalised for a foul on Silva, leaving the game scoreless at half-time.

Ziyech’s masterful curling effort transformed the mood at Stamford Bridge, however, for both himself and all of Chelsea.

The 28-year-old refused to celebrate his blistering goal at Brighton on Tuesday, but five days later his moment of sheer magic had him pointing to the skies in jubilation.

If Ziyech needed the personal boost, how Chelsea required this result. The Blues’ five draws since December and then defeat at Manchester City had left Thomas Tuchel’s men in a precarious Premier League position.

Tottenham pitched up in west London with four games in hand over their fierce foes, knowing that a maximum return would see them leapfrog the Blues and move into the top four.

Chelsea’s first league win in five – and since Boxing Day – eased a huge amount of pressure, though, as the hosts finally found their fluency in a pulsating second half.

Spurs finished the day in seventh spot, trailing the third-placed Blues by 11 points, with a possible 12 in hand. The manner of the defeat, however, and the overall momentum swing, will leave Chelsea by far the more confident of a top-four finish.

Tottenham’s nine-match unbeaten Premier League run under new boss Antonio Conte came to an abrupt end, with the Italian manager defeated at his old stomping ground once more.

Ziyech’s wonder strike would have been worthy of winning any contest, though, and Callum Hudson-Odoi must also earn big plaudits for his assist.

The England forward rolled Japhet Tanganga to jink clear before feeding Ziyech on the edge of the area.

What followed turned a game that until the break at least had hung right in the balance.

Romelu Lukaku spurned a fine chance for Chelsea just minutes into the contest.

The Belgium striker leaned back on Mount’s low centre and skied the ball into the stands.

Ziyech’s cute far-post cross then had Hudson-Odoi creeping round the back of the defence only to nod wide.

The Moroccan did hit the target from 20 yards, but Hugo Lloris coped easily with an effort lacking true venom.

Matt Doherty was rightly not censured after Malang Sarr’s heavy fall under a challenge.

Chelsea’s measured build-up play could not be matched in the final third, as Jorginho’s loose pass meant for Lukaku saw a promising move break down.

Lukaku wasted another glorious opening from another low Mount cross, with Hudson-Odoi unable to make anything happen after latching on to the loose ball at the far post.

Kane thought he had stolen Tottenham the lead at the death of the first half, only for his effort to be chalked off almost as soon as the ball crossed the whitewash.

The England captain was pulled back for his push on Silva, with the Brazil defender using all his wiles to earn the foul and deny Spurs the goal.

Chelsea returned from the half-time break a team refreshed and revitalised.

And Ziyech’s wonderful goal only added to that rejuvenation as the Morocco forward left Lloris no chance by fizzing the ball right into the top corner.

Silva put the seal on Mount’s wicked free-kick to wrap up a result to fire up the Blues and stall the Spurs.

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Duncan Ferguson’s second spell as Everton caretaker manager got off to the worst possible start with the club facing a likely investigation into a bottle-throwing incident during the 1-0 defeat to Aston Villa.

Former Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard’s first appearance at Goodison Park as head coach barely featured as a sub-plot with the focus all on the ex-Toffees striker taking charge following the sacking of Rafael Benitez.

But, like many occasions during his playing career, it was Gerrard who left the ground smiling after Emiliano Buendia’s match-winning header in first-half added time.

The Villa boss was less happy about the incident which saw Matty Cash and former Everton defender Lucas Digne both floored by a full bottle thrown from the crowd which will probably result in punishment for the home side. Everton announced after the match that a supporter had been arrested for throwing a missile onto the pitch.

Ferguson promised changes after previous failings and delivered five of them, replacing three of the back four from last weekend’s defeat at Norwich which accounted for Benitez.

He did have the luxury, one barely afforded his predecessor, of starting Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison together for the first time since August in a front pair of a 4-4-2 but even that could not end a run which is now one win in 14 league matches.

The absence from the squad of January signings Vitalii Mykolenko and Nathan Patterson appeared pertinent.

On his last outing in temporary charge the Scot immediately got the fans on-side and this time around it was no different, with the first drink in pubs around the ground being served free courtesy of Ferguson’s generosity.

The feeling was reciprocated when he appeared on the touchline – though the same could not be said for the club’s hierarchy with a banner directed at chairman Bill Kenwright flown overhead before kick-off stating “22 years of failure, Bill. Time to go”.

Gerrard was predictably booed when he appeared, as was Digne’s early touches having left Goodison just a couple of weeks ago after a fall-out with Benitez.

Ferguson, who in his first spell as caretaker two years ago won his opening game against Chelsea, had promised more intensity from his players and they delivered on that front, with Jacob Ramsey’s ripped shirt an indication of how much more combative the hosts were under his instruction.

However, there was not much of an improvement in the football with Everton’s best two players this season Demarai Gray and Andros Townsend – both Benitez signings – isolated as wingers.

Villa created all the threat, with Buendia forcing Pickford into a low save early on.

One of the complaints Benitez had was over the number of costly individual errors and Everton shot themselves in the foot again when Digne slipped in the centre-circle to present Abdoulaye Doucoure and Richarlison with a two-on-one only for the former to woefully overhit his pass.

Pickford was over-employed, denying Watkins twice, although his brilliant save from a header counted for little as the offside flag went up, and Philippe Coutinho.

Pressure was building and the hosts finally cracked with the last action of the half when Digne, in one instant providing more assists for his new club than he had for Everton this season, whipped in a corner for Buendia to flick a header over Townsend on the goalline.

As the Villa players celebrated down by the corner flag Digne and Cash were hit with a full bottle, prompting a delay to the restart.

A public address announcement early in the second half that anyone throwing bottles would be arrested and banned was somewhat pointless, while television pundit Jermaine Jenas said the game was “going back to the dark ages of football”.

Ferguson sent on Allan and Anthony Gordon with the latter crossing for Richarlison to nod over and Calvert-Lewin to balloon an effort into the Gwladys Street End either side of Ben Godfrey’s header being cleared off the line by Tyrone Mings.

Everton’s aerial threat continued to increase with captain-for-the-day Yerry Mina twice missing the target with headers but, on the 115th anniversary of Everton’s great goalscorer Dixie Dean’s birth, the home side registering just one shot on target seemed like an affront.

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Super-sub Marcus Rashford struck a dramatic stoppage-time winner as Manchester United broke West Ham hearts and lifted the roof off Old Trafford.

In the Carabao Cup earlier in the season David Moyes led the Hammers to their first win at the Red Devils since 2007 and he looked set to leave with a potentially vital point in the race for Champions League qualification.

But United dug deep and secured victory with virtually the last kick of the game as Edinson Cavani crossed for fellow substitute Rashford to score in front of a rocking Stretford End to seal a 1-0 win.

It was a memorable end to what looked set to end in a drab goalless draw between two sides that failed to muster a shot on target between them in the first half.

Cristiano Ronaldo went close to connecting a with a fine cross and saw penalty appeals ignored in that opening period, with Ralf Rangnick throwing caution to the wind with his late attacking substitutions.

West Ham nearly capitalised as they pushed top-heavy United, only for the stars to align as Rashford turned home.

After a video assistant referee review for offside, the goal was awarded as Rangnick celebrated consecutive wins for the first time in charge.

United usurped West Ham in fourth after the breathless end to what was largely forgettable encounter.

Rangnick’s only change to the 3-1 win at Brentford saw captain Harry Maguire return in place of Victor Lindelof, who was with his family after a traumatic break-in at his house during that midweek fixture.

The skipper started sharply with strong challenges on in-form Jarrod Bowen and Michail Antonio, with Mason Greenwood wasting an opportunity on the break at the other end.

Ronaldo attempted to atone for a poor free-kick with a drilled shot that was charged down.

United were producing some crisp passing as they patiently probed and the veteran nearly reached a superb Bruno Fernandes cross at the end of one such move.

The hosts were controlling proceedings against a side that were happy to sit back and play on the break, albeit their play was too rushed and ineffective when they attempted to.

Ronaldo screamed for a penalty after going down under pressure from Kurt Zouma when attempting to reach a ball. He was not impressed when referee Jon Moss told him the VAR had cleared the on-field decision.

The 36-year-old still looked unhappy as the players trudged off at half-time, ending a half in which play had become scrappier as it wound down.

The first shot on target of the day arrived in the 49th minute as the ball bounced kindly for Fred, who forced a fine save out of Alphonse Areola on his first Premier League start for the Hammers.

West Ham’s first corner of the game followed soon after and United looked predictably unsteady. Able to clear the initial cross, they left Jarrod Bowen to get the loose ball and his shot rippled the side netting.

The Red Devils had not scored from a corner all season but they came close when Raphael Varane rose to meet an Alex Telles set piece with a powerful header just over.

Anthony Elanga hooked wide shortly before Marcus Rashford replaced him, providing new energy to a frontline struggling to create opportunities.

Fernandes and Telles had wayward efforts as United pushed, with Rangnick turning to Cavani and wantaway Anthony Martial as the match entered the final stages. There were a smattering of boos for the latter.

West Ham nearly snatched victory at the death as Tomas Soucek all too easily got free to glance a Bowen corner across the face of goal.

David De Gea had to be alert to prevent a Rice cross deflecting in at the near post, with Martial unable to get a clean shot away on the turn in stoppage time.

But for all their faults, United have regularly shown their ability to fight in recent years.

In one last roll of the dice, they charged forwards and Cavani crossed for Rashford to turn home at the far post. The VAR checked a potential offside but there was to be no last-gasp reprieve for Moyes’ men.

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Runaway leaders Manchester City were denied a 13th Premier League victory in a row after being held to a 1-1 draw by battling Southampton.

Aymeric Laporte headed a 65th-minute equaliser for Pep Guardiola’s men following a surprise early opener from Saints defender Kyle Walker-Peters.

Kevin De Bruyne and Gabriel Jesus struck the same post in the second period but City were unable to find a winner during incessant pressure as they failed to win a top-flight game for the first time since a shock 2-0 loss at home to Crystal Palace way back in late October.

The result leaves the reigning champions 12 points clear of second-placed Liverpool, albeit having played two games more, ahead of a 17-day break from top-flight action.

Southampton played their part in a pulsating encounter, with Armando Broja seeing a goal ruled out for offside and later heading against the woodwork.

Saints, who drew 0-0 at the Etihad Stadium in September, climb a place to 12th.

Ruben Dias returned in place of John Stones to captain City in the only change from last weekend’s 1-0 win over Chelsea, while Southampton reverted to a four-man defence and brought back Walker-Peters, Stuart Armstrong and Che Adams.

Saints manager Ralph Hasenhuttl admitted pre-match that he could not see anyone overhauling City in the title race.

Yet his side quickly proved Guardiola’s men are not infallible as Walker-Peters lifted the roof off the stadium inside seven minutes with his maiden Premier League goal.

The recalled Saints right-back played a slick on-two with Nathan Redmond down the right before emphatically finding the far corner with the outside of his right boot.

Stunned by the early opener, City continued to monopolise the ball without seriously threatening before surviving a major scare.

In-form Chelsea loanee Broja caused more jubilation in the stands after racing clear to calmly slot beyond visiting goalkeeper Ederson, only for the joy to be swiftly snuffed out by an offside flag.

The hosts were clearly up for the battle, evidenced further by defender Jan Bednarek being booked for scraping his studs down the shin of an incensed Jack Grealish.

City needed 37 minutes to register a shot on target and should have been level at the break.

Southampton left-back Romain Perraud failed to cut out Phil Foden’s low cross from the left but the unmarked Raheem Sterling wastefully directed his effort straight at Fraser Forster from just over six yards out.

City set up camp inside the home side’s half in the opening stages of the second period but the greater chances were initially concentrated at the other end.

Poland defender Bednarek saw a close-range header repelled by Ederson before later lashing a rebound wide after Broja headed against the right post following a corner, awarded following Laporte’s last-ditch sliding tackle to deny Saints substitute Mohamed Elyounoussi.

At the other end, Foden tested Forster with a thumping volley and Rodri curled narrowly over, before Southampton were finally made to pay for the missed opportunities by conceding a sloppy leveller.

De Bruyne delivered a delightful, curling free-kick in from the right and Laporte broke clear of the static Saints defence to head home unmarked from around six yards.

The one-way traffic continued as City twice hit the woodwork in the space of two minutes.

De Bruyne rattled the right post with a curling effort from distance, before substitute Gabriel Jesus headed against the same upright moments later.

Belgian De Bruyne was causing constant problems and was denied a penalty following a VAR review after going down close to the edge of Saints’ 18-yard box under pressure from Oriol Romeu and Mohammed Salisu.

Armstrong’s studs-up tackle on Laporte was also reviewed before referee Simon Hooper stuck with his original decision of a yellow card.

City were given six minutes of added time to maintain their lengthy winning run but the dogged hosts dug in to the delight of the majority inside the ground.

As the home fans celebrated a hard-fought draw, there were ugly scenes in the away end.

A handful of City supporters ran on to the pitch, while other visiting supporters clashed with stewards.

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Liverpool reduced the gap at the top of the Premier League table to nine points after a 3-1 win at Crystal Palace.

Two Andrew Robertson assists helped the Reds take control, with Virgil Van Dijk and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain on target in the first half.

But Patrick Vieira’s side reduced the deficit through Odsonne Edouard at the start of the second period.

In the end it took a string of saves from Alisson Becker to secure the win, with Fabinho adding a contentious penalty late on to wrap up a victory which keeps the title race alive after Manchester City dropped points on Saturday.

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Arsenal defender Pablo Mari has joined Udinese on loan for the rest of the season.

Spanish centre-half Mari, 28, has made just three appearances in all competitions for the Gunners this season and 22 in total.

Udinese said on their official website: “The Spanish defender arrives on loan from Arsenal until the end of the sporting season.

“A player who combines physical strength with technical qualities and great skill in aerial play, all precious characteristics that have brought him to the top European stages.”

Mari, who started out at Mallorca, was signed by Manchester City in 2016 and loaned out immediately to Girona. He has also had loan spells at NEC Breda and Deportivo La Coruna.

He joined Brazilian side Flamengo in a permanent deal in July 2019 before arriving at Arsenal, initially on loan, the following January and the Gunners paid a reported £7million to make the move permanent in July 2020.

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Liverpool reached the Carabao Cup final for the first time in six years as Diogo Jota’s brace was enough to seal semi-final success at the expense of 10-man Arsenal.

After a goalless first leg at Anfield last week, Jota’s first-half daisycutter caught Aaron Ramsdale flat-footed and he then saw a second-half VAR check rule he was onside following a smart finish as Liverpool won 2-0 at the Emirates Stadium.

To top off a miserable night for Arsenal, Thomas Partey – who only returned from the Africa Cup of Nations earlier in the day – was sent off just 16 minutes after coming off the bench.

It means Jurgen Klopp’s Reds head to Wembley, where they will face Chelsea on February 27.

This leg should have initially been the first of the tie but was postponed after a number of positive coronavirus cases at Liverpool, while Arsenal had successfully appealed for Sunday’s north London derby at Tottenham to be called off.

This game had been in doubt but went ahead as planned, with Arsenal able to welcome back a number of players who would have been unavailable at Spurs.

The hosts started brightly, Alexandre Lacazette hitting the crossbar with a free-kick inside the opening five minutes.

Liverpool thought they had broken the deadlock in the tie as Joel Matip poked home a Fabinho header across goal but his effort was ruled out for offside.

Jota, though, would continue his fine recent scoring record against the Gunners, getting the better of the returning Takehiro Tomiyasu and somehow beating Ramsdale with a scuffed effort.

After their lively start, Arsenal’s attacking talent was stifled as Liverpool took control of the game heading into half-time.

Lacazette passed up a great chance to level after the restart, firing over the bar after besting the Liverpool offside trap to latch onto a fine pass from Albert Sambi Lokonga.

Liverpool, too, saw an opportunity to double their lead pass them by as youngster Kaide Gordon showed a lack of composure in skying a cross from Jota when well-placed.

Ibrahima Konate, on for Matip at the interval, headed against the post from a corner as the pressure on Ramsdale’s goal intensified.

Jota’s second 13 minutes from the end killed off the dying embers of any Arsenal comeback, the Portugal forward once again benefitting from a Trent Alexander-Arnold pass before coolly finishing.

The goal was ruled out by the flag of the assistant referee, only for VAR to overrule the decision and award the goal.

Partey was then dismissed after picking up two bookings in quick succession, the Ghana midfielder having only landed back in London at lunchtime, and he will now miss the visit of Premier League bottom side Burnley on Sunday.

But it was Jota’s fifth in his last five appearances against Arsenal and went unanswered as Liverpool booked their place at Wembley, aiming to win the competition for a record ninth time.

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Barcelona were dumped out of the Copa del Rey on Thursday as Ferran Torres’ first goal for the club failed to prevent a dramatic 3-2 defeat after extra-time by Athletic Bilbao. Disappointment for Barca was compounded by the sight of a visibly upset Ansu Fati going off injured in the second half of normal time at San Mames. Fati only returned earlier this month after two months out with a hamstring problem, having also come back in September following 10 months out with a knee injury.

Another spell on the sidelines for Fati would be a huge blow to Barca’s hopes of making La Liga’s top four. Pedri also asked to go off in extra-time.

Real Madrid needed an extra 30 minutes as well to defeat Elche 2-1, with Eden Hazard grabbing the winner after Marcelo’s red card forced La Liga’s leaders to come from behind with 10 men.

Isco scored the equaliser after Gonzalu Verdu put Elche in front.

“It may be that Hazard and Isco deserve to play more,” said Carlo Ancelotti. “I know I can count on them.”

Barca were hoping to join Real Madrid in the last eight but instead it is Athletic who advance, joining Madrid, Real Sociedad, Mallorca, Rayo Vallecano, Cadiz, Valencia and Real Betis in Friday’s draw for the last eight.

Madrid will be firm favourites, particularly after Sevilla crashed out at the hands of Real Betis, who are now perhaps the greatest threat to Ancelotti’s side winning their first Copa del Rey since 2014, during Ancelotti’s first tenure as coach.

Barca won the Copa del Rey last season and defending their title was probably their best chance of silverware this term.

They are out of sight in La Liga and were beaten by Madrid in last week’s Spanish Super Cup, with the Europa League now their only realistic remaining route to a trophy.

“They have beaten us on intensity,” said Xavi Hernandez. “We have to change the dynamic because when it’s heads or tails we always get tails. You have to work and be brave.”

Only 102 seconds had passed when Iker Muniain sent San Mames apoplectic by collecting Nico Williams’ cross at the back post, before turning and bending into the far corner.

But Barcelona were level in the 20th minute, and from a similar angle, as Torres shifted right, inside Oscar De Marcos, and whipped a stunning shot into the net.

Inaki Williams hit the bar with a long-range effort late on but the real drama was still to come. Athletic thought they had won it in the 86th minute when Inigo Martinez prodded in at the back post ahead of the sliding Gerard Pique.

Barcelona, though, found a way back in the 93rd, as Dani Alves bicycle-kicked Jordi Alba’s cross back into the area and Pedri’s hit on the stretch was too powerful for Julen Agirrezabala’s right hand.

Barca celebrated like it was the winner but there was extra-time to come and injuries. Fati went off and then Pedri asked to depart.

Then in the 103rd minute, a sliding Alba stopped Nico Williams’ cross with his right arm and after consulting the replay, Jose Munuera pointed to the spot. Ter Stegen dived right, Muniain shot left.

Hazard had earlier scored his first Real Madrid goal in eight months as Madrid staged a dramatic comeback with 10 men to beat Elche.

The Belgian has been fit but still on the fringes of Ancelotti’s team in recent months and even in this cup game, he started on the bench.

But the 31-year-old came on for extra-time and will hope his winner can now be the beginning of a resurgence in the second half of the season.

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Umtiti out for three months after foot surgery

Samuel Umtiti is expected to be out of action for around three months after undergoing surgery on a fractured metatarsal, Barcelona have announced. 

France international Umtiti had a procedure on his right foot on Tuesday and will be consigned to the sidelines until April at the earliest. 

A club statement read: “Samuel Umtiti has undergone successful surgery on the fifth metatarsal of his right foot. 

“Tuesday’s operation was performed by Dr Antoni Dalmau under supervision of the FC Barcelona Medical Services. He is expected to be out of action for around three months. 

“The French centre-back suffered the fracture in training on Monday.”

Umtiti this month signed a new contract that tied him to Camp Nou until 2026, despite having been heavily linked with an exit.  

The World Cup-winning defender’s three-year extension included a temporary pay decrease that allowed new signing Ferran Torres to be registered. 

Umtiti has long been a peripheral figure at Barcelona, featuring in just 17 games in all competitions since the start of last season.