Boubakary Soumare is currently one of the hottest prospects in French football. The Lille midfielder has been catching rave reviews from not just people in France, but in other parts of Europe too. L’Equipe in France have said that the likes of Manchester United, Tottenham, Napoli, Valencia and Real Madrid are keen admirers of the player.
When clubs of that level are after a player, there certainly is something in that player. And for a player who is still only 20, that is an achievement in itself. And more than that, it is worth keeping in mind that this is Soumare’s first season in senior-level football.
He was around the first-team since the 2017-18 season, but he is getting regular football for the first time at the club. And getting that much attention in the first full season isn’t something everyone can do. And Real Madrid should be licking their lips about it.
This season, Soumare has made 17 appearances in all competitions for Lille. He is yet to score or assist, but that isn’t exactly an issue for a defensive midfielder. He isn’t exactly a ball-winning midfielder. He is more of that ball-player who is very good on the ball and likes to keep the play ticking.
This season, he has made 1.2 tackles per game while making 0.9 interceptions per game too. That isn’t too huge a number, but he also has a passing percentage of 89.9 percent. For a defensive midfielder, that is a very impressive number indeed. In fact, that is the highest passing percentage for a player who is playing regular football at Lille.
He isn’t a player who is easy to get past. He has been dribbled past only 0.4 times per game this season. That is the second-best for a midfielder or a defender this season at his club. His ability on the ball allows him to play two long-balls per game, with the number at 3.3 in the UEFA Champions League. He is well capable of playing as a central midfielder in a slightly further forward position too.
That makes him a very interesting player for Real Madrid. His skillset is a lot like Toni Kroos, even though the German’s numbers are much higher than Soumare’s. The Frenchman is very similar to Tanguy Ndombele and brings that quickness and a lot more tenacity than Kroos. Like Ndombele, he is an expert at using his body to get away from challenges and playing others in.
Ndombele and Soumare add something new to the plate. They are press resistant and can carry the ball forward with burst. They don’t score or assist too often, but they stamp their authority in midfield very well.
Real do have a player like that in Casemiro, but Soumare is more mobile than him. The Brazilian is a better ball-winner. But the Frenchman is him and a bit of Toni Kroos in one basket. And a player like that is unique and it explains why Real were after Ndombele before Tottenham got him in the summer.
Real don’t have to guarantee him regular football since the very start. He is in his first full season and the transition can be too huge. It will make sense to loan him out to get first-team football and mature further.