'Big Sam' awaits Olimpija: Lille constructs a fascinating defensive wall with a 17-year-old gem and a former world champion

Olimpija's attackers are gearing up for an intriguing clash with French side Lille, which has crafted a unique defensive duo this season.

19. September 2023

Samuel Umtiti (Foto: uradna spletna stran kluba)

Lille, a club typically known for its player sales, has also been successful in identifying emerging talent. While young prospects like Jonathan David and Icelandic newcomer Hakon Arnar Haraldsson are in the spotlight, Lille has also been adept at finding seasoned leaders, such as Jose Fonte and Burak Yilmaz. In the future, this role might be filled by Samuel Umtiti.

The footballer, who clinched the World Cup title with France in 2018, returned to France this summer after eight years. He made his debut for his new club against Rennes last weekend. After sorting out his contract situation in Barcelona, Umtiti had a successful stint in Italy, proving his worth in Lecce's defense. At 29, he still has a lot to offer.


Lille expects Umtiti to be one of the team leaders and mentor the exceptionally talented 17-year-old Leny Yoro, who already partnered with him in the heart of the defense against Rennes.

"Young players are eager to listen, which makes my job easier. The team functions well, but I quickly realized they lack charisma and need a leader to bring more calmness, especially in challenging times. I know I have to play that role,"
Umtiti shared after his debut. He is now tasked with helping Yoroju develop into a top-tier defender.

"Each of us brings our experiences. I'm not a god. Will I change everything? No. I also need to listen to my teammates. I told Lenyju that his age doesn't matter to me. We'll need to communicate since we see everything from the back. This team needs to mature," Umtiti added.