LOSC Lille midfielder Boubakary Soumaré has been linked with a host of clubs since the turn of the year. Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United are reportedly keen to bring the 20-year-old to the Premier League and rightly so.
Soumaré is one of the hottest midfield prospects to come out of France since Paul Pogba and would take to the Premier League seamlessly.
The Frenchman made his debut for Lille in the 2017-18 season, aged just 17 and this represents the sheer talent possessed by the youngster. Since then, Soumaré has made 62 appearances for Lille, becoming a mainstay and powerhouse in midfield. So what will he bring to any side?
Style of Play
Soumaré can be described as an intelligent, technical and powerful midfielder. The closest comparison would be to France and Arsenal legend Patrick Vieira. Soumaré is capable of playing in a multitude of roles in midfield.
He can operate as the deepest midfielder in a more defensive role but also combine the role of a deep-lying playmaker and recycle possession effectively. However, Soumaré's best role is that of a box-to-box midfielder which would highlight his talents best.
Similar to Paul Pogba at Juventus, Soumaré is capable of being an all-action midfielder, making runs from deep, engaging in combination play and bringing aggression and bite to the midfield. He has had few injury issues and possesses the stamina to keep going for the entire game.
The above images are from Smarterscout and indicate Soumare's strengths. The metric works by comparing the player to other players in the league in the same position and assigning each aspect a value from 1-100 based on how they compare with the other players in the same league.
We can see that Soumare is excellent at retaining the ball and being press-resistant, a vital trait to survive in the Premier League. He is solid in his tackling and interceptions and most importantly linking up with his teammates.
A physical midfielder, Soumare brings muscle and stamina to the midfield and wins both aerial and ground duels. Standing at 1.9 metres tall, Soumare has the mobility to survive in fast-paced games but the composure to maintain his positioning as well.
He is the perfect modern-day central midfielder.
Which club would be the best fit for him?
Arsenal are arguably the side who could use Soumare's services the most. The Gunners have a chronic lack of athleticism and mobility in midfield and need an effective ball-carrier. Soumare's robustness and technical ability would make him a mainstay in Mikel Arteta's system and complement the weaknesses of Granit Xhaka and Lucas Torreira.
Manchester United also need an athletic presence to compensate for Pogba's injuries and the possibility of his transfer. United have really struggled to transition from midfield to attack and this is largely down to the players that they have.
As a part of a midfield trio, Soumare would become this ball-progressor and bring more quick passing and movement to the side. Similarly, he could also be deployed deeper to play along with Pogba and replacing the ageing Matic.
Chelsea already have N'Golo Kante playing in midfield but could use a physical presence along with Jorginho and Kante. Soumare could take up the Makelele role at Chelsea and would create a formidable partnership with Kante.
However, there is no doubt that no matter where he moves, Soumare would fit into any top side with ease given his skillset.