Leicester City kick off their 2021/22 campaign this evening with the Community Shield at Wembley Stadium when they take on Manchester City.
The Foxes will be hoping to get their hands on some more silverware, adding to last season’s FA Cup triumph and providing an early confidence boost in their pursuit of a top-four finish in the Premier League.
Brendan Rodgers’ charges recorded a second consecutive fifth-place finish in the league last term, narrowly missing out on a Champions League qualification spot once again. However, the Midlands outfit claimed their maiden FA Cup through Youri Tielemans’ stunning strike, seeing off Chelsea in the showpiece at Wembley three months ago.
The Belgium international’s long-range hit earned them a place in today’s season curtain-raiser, and Leicester will be keen to show that they’re ready for another assault on the upper echelons with a solid performance.
A lack of squad depth has undermined Rodgers’ charges over the last couple of campaigns, but the former Celtic boss has added several significant additions over the summer to address that issue.
The Community Shield could be the perfect opportunity to unleash at least one of them. With Jonny Evans and Wesley Fofana out injured, Wilfried Ndidi is expected to slot into centre-back, meaning that Boubakary Soumare is set to make his debut for the club this evening.
The 22-year-old box-to-box dynamo arrived from French outfit Lille in a £17m deal over the summer and should add a new element to Leicester’s engine room.
Lille’s former CEO Marc Ingla described him as “a powerful and technical player who can evolve to several positions in the field” upon his arrival at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy back in 2017, and he certainly lived up to that billing.
While Ndidi offers protection to the back four, Tielemans brings technical ability and an incredible passing range and James Maddison provides a goal threat, Soumare has other unique aspects to his game.
As per SofaScore, the former France under-21 international made 1.2 interceptions and 1.4 tackles and won 3.7 duels per game last season, highlighting his ability to win back the ball and stop opposition attacks.
However, what makes Soumare so special is that he’s also adept with the ball at his feet. He completed an average of 0.9 successful dribbles in 2020/21, illustrating his natural instinct to surge through the centre of the park, driving his team up the pitch.
His enviable blend of midfield skills could be crucial if Leicester are to cause an upset against Pep Guardiola’s Cityzens, and Rodgers must unleash the potentially game-changing Frenchman for this intriguing encounter.