Boubakary Soumare. The Lille midfielder's name has become common in almost all media outlets this January.
He is a man on demand, with Chelsea, Manchester United, Real Madrid and even Tottenham some of the teams said to be keen on his signature.
Reports indicated a week ago that a deal had been struck between the French club and both Man United and Chelsea, giving the midfielder the chance to pick between the two.
However, the question is, is he genuinely good or is it a creation of the media?
The 20-year-old is a product of Paris Saint Germain. He turned down the chance to sign a professional contract at the Le Parc des Princes, opting to join Lille instead back in 2017.
He has been at the club since then and played for France through all levels of international youth football, from the U16 to the U21.
He is yet to feature for the French national team, but that is only a matter of time, going by his rising stock.
At Lille, he has developed into one of the best midfielders in his age bracket and played over 60 games last season for LOSC.
He has continued with the same in the current campaign and was one of the standout players in the Champions League group stage, where he, interestingly, faced Chelsea.
Highest take-on success-rate among players with 15+ take-ons in the #UCL this season:— Squawka Football (@Squawka) December 10, 2019
🔘 Mateo Kovacic (80%)
🔘 Willian (68%)
🔘 Boubakary Soumaré (67%)
🔘 Jeff Reine-Adélaïde (63%)
🔘 Lionel Messi (63%)
The Chelsea duo leading the way. 💃 pic.twitter.com/260Gb5ink5
His style of play
For Chelsea and Manchester United fans, you can get excited over Soumare. He is a true box-to-box midfielder in the mould of Paul Pogba. What makes him stand out is his work-rate and ability to play a purely defensive role.
Think of N'Golo Kante at Chelsea, or Wilfred Ndidi at Leicester and you get the idea of what type of player Soumare is, he excels in a position very few have stood out.
He is impressive in his passing, can dribble, tackle and loves breaking up play. His height also means he is good at aerial balls.
His role at Lille has seen him develop his quality on the ball, and his first touch is impressive. You'll seem him roam the entire pitch and is involved heavily in building up play.
He was recently described as Paul Pogba 'without the baggage' and even though the two players are different in their style of play, there is some resemblance in their timed runs and ability to read the game and make key passes.
The two also share similarities in their physical appearance.
McTominay potentially having a serious injury? We need a midfielder in January, Boubakary Soumaré would be my choice. pic.twitter.com/t4mw9zJhLb— ً (@Sarrista__) December 26, 2019
What coaches are saying
Lille president Gerard Lopez thinks highly of the Paris-born midfielder and knows he will end up in a top club, sooner or later.
“He’s one of the very best at his job,” he told Voix du Nord in October 2019.
“He’s technical, with incredible physical power and wins a great deal of possession. He’s a modern No.6 or 8. We’ll see him in the France team very soon,"
For Sylvain Ripoli, France's U21 boss, Soumare is ready to play at the highest level having seen him develop over the last two years.
“He’s a clear vision of where he wants to go and he’s working very hard to get there.”
“I’ve been with him for two years and he’s already a very complete player. He’s also got this capacity to adapt because ‘Bouba’ can play in a two or three-man midfield. And he’s increasing in confidence and maturity all the time.”
Where can he fit?
The Blues have one of the most complete sets of midfielders in Europe. Jorginho, Kante, and Kovacic offer a great balance for Frank Lampard's side.
However, Soumare can add to the qualities already on offer at the Bridge. Jorginho is a great passer but does not have a physical presence and cannot drive through the midfield with energy.
Kante offers what Soumare can bring in the midfield but the youngster's physical attributes edge him out on this.
His ability to adapt to different midfield formations too is great quality and can add to the array of midfield talents at the club.
United have Paul Pogba and one of the season's breakout youngsters in Scott McTominay. The Frenchman's future is, however, unclear as he is continuously linked with a move to either Real Madrid Juventus or PSG.
Soumare would perfectly fit at Old Trafford considering the likes of Nemanja Matic are in their last years at the club.
He would bring his industrious nature to the midfield and could combine well with the Scotland international to a great effect.
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