Boubakary Soumaré
Shirt number 42

Boubakary Soumaré

Youngster Boubakary Soumaré joined Leicester City, signing a five-year deal on 2 July, 2021, after lifting the Ligue 1 title at Lille a season earlier.
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Full Name
Boubakary Soumaré
Nationality
France
Date of Birth
27 February 1999
Height
6'2" (188cm)
Weight
11st 0lbs (70kg)
Professional Debut
3 August 2019

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Soumaré was born in the suburb of Noisy-le-Sec, east of Paris, in 1999. He had impressed many even before his 10th birthday with Paris FC and, at the age of 12, after being monitored for some time by Paris Saint-Germain, he signed terms with France's most successful club.

As Leicester City were crowned as English champions against all odds in 2016, it was also a summer which saw the aspiring midfielder help PSG’s Under-19s win the French Championnat National and reach the final of the UEFA Youth League despite only recently turning 17. 

Youth players develop at different paces. Some bloom later after several years spent finding their feet. Others shine early and keep the torch alight. Soumaré was definitely the latter – getting fitter with each passing year, earning more and more plaudits and admirers along the way. 

The next season, the young Frenchman, now 18, starred for PSG’s reserve side in the fourth tier of French football but, in 2017, Soumaré made the decision to leave the club in pursuit of first team football. Marcelo Bielsa’s Lille, in Ligue 1, was his chosen location. 

Marc Ingla, the chief executive at Stade Pierre-Mauroy, credited the youngster’s maturity upon completing the deal. “We must not forget that he is only 18-years-old,” he said.

The 2017/18 campaign would ultimately be a bitterly disappointing one for Lille as Christophe Galtier replaced Bielsa just in time to prevent relegation by a solitary point. It would not be too much of an overstatement to say that Soumaré’s cameo displays were a rare highlight. 

The then 19-year-old was already being touted for great things with reports in French media suggesting English sides were showing an interest. 

Soumaré stayed in northern France, on the Deûle River, to play a prominent role in Lille's rapid recovery, as Galtier guided Les Dogues to second in Ligue 1. The 22 appearances made in 2018/19 led to another 30 outings a year later, with Lille again in European contention, finishing fourth.

A vibrant, attacking and youthful side were winning new supporters in France and Soumaré was gradually transitioning from impact sub into a key first-team star. He began to feature highly in stats charts for passes, dribbles and carries, as well as in defensive areas such as possession retention and tackles. 

The speed and efficiency of his play became perhaps his most laudable trait in 2020/21 as he was given a platform to showcase his abilities as a reliable figure in possession of the ball. 

With Galtier still in charge, Soumaré and his Lille team-mates delivered on the promise they had shown over previous terms, losing just three Ligue 1 games all season, collecting 83 points and lifting only the fourth top-flight title in the club's history, even toppling the mighty PSG.

Their UEFA Europa League campaign also included a landmark 3-0 triumph over AC Milan and Soumaré – once the archetypal impact sub – made 41 appearances in all competitions.  

While the goalscoring exploits of Burak Yılmaz and Yusuf Yazıcı rightly took much of the plaudits, Lille’s No.24 was the engine room, forcing them forwards at every turn. 

The man they affectionally call ‘Bouba’ in northern France had finally broken through during a campaign which could, arguably, be labelled Lille's greatest-ever Ligue 1 season.  

The 6ft 2in central midfielder who was first fast-tracked and then made to wait for his big chance is now a Leicester City player. His spell as a Fox couldn't have started better either, lifting the FA Community Shield after a substitute appearance in the 1-0 victory over Manchester City at Wembley Stadium.

A maiden appearance for the Club in the UEFA Europa League followed against Napoli on Filbert Way in September, before a full Premier League debut at Brighton & Hove Albion three days later. 

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