Although Leicester City will be sweating at losing out on the Top 4 two years in a row, the club is already laying out the building blocks for next season after another impressive season this year.
In terms of quality, Leicester City probably have the thinnest squad out of the Top 8 clubs in the Premier League and the Foxes are planning to bring in players that can provide the club with substantial squad depth, given that they will be competing in Europe as well next season.
After months of negotiation, Leicester are close to signing their first player for the summer in Lille midfielder Boubakary Soumare. The Frenchman has impressed with league leaders Lille this season, and if things go to plan, Boubakary Soumare will be a Ligue 1 Champion soon.
BOUBAKARY SOUMARE IN NUMBERS:
A product of Paris Saint Germain, Boubakary Soumare joined Lille in July 2017 as an 18-year-old. Although Soumare only racked up 5 appearances in his first two seasons at the club, the Frenchman had the talent and potential to eventually take his game to the next level. Thus, since January 2020, Boubakary has been a starter in the Lille team and there has been little to no surprise as to why that has happened.
A brick wall-like defensive midfielder, Boubakary Soumare has engined his way into this Lille side and has become an integral part of Lille’s penultimate championship victory. A brilliant operator in front of the defence, Soumare’s positioning has been one of the most key factors of his game this season. This has led to the Frenchman averaging 2 interceptions a game this season while also achieving 4 successful tackles per 90 minutes.
However, these are not Soumare’s premium attributes. The midfielder has been influential in progressing the ball from deep this season, however, he is far from being a box-to-box player, with Soumare only providing 2 assists this season. An impressive statistic, however, is that Soumare is currently averaging 9 passes into the final third per 90 minutes this season. Unlike most defensive midfielders, Soumare can influence the game with the ball than without it.
The Frenchman is averaging 3 accurate long balls a game and has racked up an 86% pass completion rate throughout the season. Thus, it only makes sense for Soumare to move to a club that likes to play the ball out from the back or have trouble in doing so.
WHERE DOES HE FIT INTO THIS LECIESTER TEAM?
Although Leicester already have Youri Tielemans and Wilfried Ndidi as excellent midfield operators at the heart of the team, Soumare will give the side a new facet. Youri Tielemans has shown that his value is far greater as a progressive midfielder than a defensive one. On the other hand, Wilfried Ndidi has struggled to pass the ball out from the back this season which has led to Leicester finding Boubakary Soumare, who can help out both Tielemans and Ndidi in the midfield.
With Ricardo Pereira and James Justin back next season, Leicester will revert to a back four leaving a vacant spot for a midfielder. While Leicester have used James Maddison in that role this season, the Englishman can be more influential in the front three than the midfielder three. Boubakary Soumare would be a perfect addition to Tielemans and Ndidi in the midfield line, as Leicester will then be able to comfortably play the ball out of pressure situations while also build from the back.
With Tielemans excellent going forward and Ndidi intercepting most balls in the center of the pitch, Boubakary Soumare can play comfortably alongside the two, who will also help the 22-year-old develop different facets of his game.
DEAL TO COMPLETED SOON:
The real fee for Boubacary Soumaré from Lille to Leicester City will be around €23m [add ons included]. Contract until June 2026 already agreed. Here we go is coming ⏳🦊 #LCFC
Leicester want also to keep Youri Tielemans offering him a new contract. 🔵 #Leicester
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) May 20, 2021
Leicester are said to have the deal almost ‘wrapped up‘ for a reported £15 million fee, which in all honesty, is a bargain for a young holding midfielder of Soumare’s ilk. Lille would have wanted Soumare to stay at the club for a couple more years, however, with the Frenchman’s contract expiring next year, Lille would be clever enough to cash in on the player while they can.
Soumare is not the only player Leicester are interested in bringing to the King Power this summer, as they have also been in contact with Celtic’s Odsonne Edouard and Southampton’s out of contract Ryan Bertrand to join the Foxes next season.
While the progress on the latter deals is unknown, Boubakary Soumare is close to signing for Leicester City and once the season comes to an end for all the parties involved, Leicester might announce the Frenchman as their first signing this summer.