If you were to criticise Leeds United for one thing this year, it would be how easy they are to play through. Despite having a strong and energetic team, they are often caught in attacking positions and run the risk of conceding easy goals. This has become a common talking point for the clubs fans, and a point of frustration among the support. However, a solution could arrive in the summer in the form of a player long linked with the Premier League. Boubakary Soumare was heavily linked with Newcastle United last year, but stayed in France to play European football with Lille OSC.
Now, he might leave France a domestic champion as Lille sit clear at the top of the table. However, it is believed that – title or not – Lille will have to make some player sales when the summer transfer window opens. Chief among the expected losses is that of Soumare; a precocious young midfield talent who has shown himself to be more than suitable for Premier League football.
Having managed Lille and Marseille in the past, Leeds coach Marcelo Bielsa knows the French market well and has previously made intelligent use of Ligue 1. His biggest summer signing, Raphinha from Rennes, has been a stellar success. So, a return to the market might see Bielsa sign one of the most highly rated midfielders on the market. But are Leeds a big enough draw to pull a player like Soumare?
Can Leeds beat the competition to sign Boubakary Soumare?
This is an intriguing position, and one that would transform the Leeds team. At the moment, Kalvin Phillips is left to do most of the playmaking and holding duties in the middle of the park. The arrival of a more specialist defensive midfielder might free him up to do more, or to give Leeds a dangerous double-pivot that works in tandem with one another.
Soumare, though, has interest from teams in the UEFA Champions League – both in France and in England. And with Lille potentially winning the league, an exit is not guaranteed as UCL monies would help to offset the need for a major player sale. Only 21, too, Soumare has more room for improvement – a risk that Lille might be willing to take in a bid to get an even higher sum of money in the future.
Leeds, though, are definitely interested in making a move for the midfielder and see him as the ideal complement to a midfield already brimming with quality. Interestingly, he would likely fill the role in midfield that was earmarked for Michael Cuisance – who instead moved to Marseille and has failed to impress upon his return to his home nation.
At the moment, then, it is hard to say for certain what happens next. What is for sure, though, is that Leeds will look to compete with others in a bid to land a player that Bielsa is known to be a massive fan of.