Leicester midfielder Boubakary Soumare displayed twin qualities of physique and elegance in an impressive performance against Spartak … and the Frenchman came within inches of scoring a sublime first goal.
- Boubakary Soumare was at the heart of an impressive first half against Spartak
- He played with grace and tenacity, showing why Brendan Rodgers called him ‘hybrid’
- The Frenchman nearly scored his first goal for the Foxes with a bold shot off the crossbar.
- The £ 17m signing has the qualities of Youri Tielemans and Wilfried Ndidi but still has a long way to go
For a player with one goal in a career spanning 126 top-level matches, he was certainly on the bold side.
But, hey, wasn’t it Wayne Gretzky who said you miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take? Or was he the head of the US version of The Office? Either way, Boubakary Soumare understands the essence.
When he found the ball bouncing towards him 25 meters from goal, who can blame him for thinking, ‘Ah, go ahead.’
Boubakary Soumare was one of Leicester’s most prominent players against Spartak Moscow
French combines the physicality of Wilfried Ndidi and the elegance of Youri Tielemans
The Leicester City midfielder hit him so clean that, for a moment, he seemed destined for the post. Instead, he vibrated the crossbar. Okay, maybe next time.
It was the closest Leicester came to scoring against Spartak Moscow in a match close to a must-win territory for the home team as they seek to qualify for the knockout stages of the Europa League.
Leicester had been brilliant, much brighter indeed than their recent Premier League loss to Arsenal. And Soumare, the £ 17m summer signing from French champion Lille, had been at the center of it all. This young man from the same Paris suburbs as two former Leicester legends N’Golo Kante and Riyad Mahrez.
Brendan Rodgers signed Soumare because he reminded him of his two star midfielders. He has the physicality of Wilfred Ndidi, Leicester’s ball-winning hound. He also has the elegance of Youri Tielemans, one of the best passers in European football.
A ‘hybrid’, as Rodgers called it. The best of both worlds, you could say. And in the first half at King Power Stadium, he showed it.
Soumare has been described by coach Brendan Rodgers as a ‘hybrid’ but still has more to give
At one point, you almost expected 22-year-old Soumare to take a moment between passes through midfield to re-tie his smoking jacket and pour himself another whiskey.
Over and over again, he picked up the ball on the edge of the center circle, rolled away from an approaching opponent, and played a pass in front of him to midfield.
And yet, despite all the silk and slippers, it wasn’t enough. He has the qualities of Tielemans and Ndidi, but neither is he at their peak brilliance.
It was still Tielemans who found the most holes in Spartak’s defense, both in preparation for Soumare’s own shot against the crossbar and for a later opportunity with which Patson Daka found the air.
And if Ndidi had been on the field early in the second half, Victor Moses probably wouldn’t have had the space to fight his way into the penalty area and head in the opening goal of a game.
Soumare was signed by Leicester for £ 17 million after winning the Ligue 1 title last season with Lille.
It was no surprise that just seven minutes after Moscow took the lead, Rodgers faced Ndidi while Leicester tied. Soumare moved further: Rodgers has a great plan to turn the one-goal deep midfielder into a frame-to-frame goal star. However, their influence continued to wane as the hosts battled for a late winner.
He broke through with a few minutes to go, before Leicester’s late flurry of opportunities that begged to leave the Foxes third in the group with two games to play. Still, as they say, everything to play for.
Local fans greeted with applause. They appreciated their efforts.
Clearly, there is more to come, including his first goal for the club. It can’t get much closer.