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Bakary Soumare sold to French club Boulogne

Bakary Soumare 1 ( 

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MLS All-Star defender Bakary Soumare is on his way to Europe and has played his last game for the Chicago Fire.

Soumare has been sold to French club Boulogne for an undisclosed fee, sources told SBI on Monday. The move comes in Soumare's third season with the Fire. Sources tell SBI that the fee being discussed last week for Soumare was $2 million. (UPDATE- L'Equipe is reporting that Soumare was sold for 1.5 million euros, or approximately $2.14 million).

(UPDATE- According to a league source, the transfer is in the works but has not been completed. Yes, league sources also denied that there was any offer for Soumare when we first mentioned this in June. You might recall our response to that denial.)

The deal comes just two weeks after a locker-room scuffle between Soumare and Fire head coach Denis Hamlett at halftime of the Fire's 3-2 loss to the Houston Dynamo, one that resulted in Soumare being dropped from the squad. Boulogne had already made inquiries about Soumare to MLS before the incident, but sources tell SBI the fight made Soumare declare that he would not play for the Fire again, something Chicago accommodated.

Soumare began turning heads in France after he began playing for the Malian national team. The 23-year-old former University of Virginia star holds a French passport and is expected to step in and compete for a starting job for Boulogne, currently in seventh place in Ligue 1. The newly-promoted club is off to a surprising start, posting two wins in its first three matches.

For those of you wondering, Boulogne doesn't face Sochaux until Dec. 19th so you will have to wait a while for the first Soumare-Davies match-up as pros.

What's the SBI take on this deal? $2.1 million doesn't seem like much for a young and promising defender with a European passport, but at the same time the Fire need to start looking at the off-season and how it will replace the handful of talented players the team is set to lose this winter. Trading Soumare within MLS would have been next to impossible and keeping him on the bench through the remainder of the season would only have meant less of a chance of seeing a quality offer for Soumare this winter (MLS had two more option years on Soumare's initial MLS contract). Now, the Fire will have about $1.5 million to use on new players for next season.

What do you think of this development? Sad to see Soumare leave? Think the Fire got a good deal for Soumare if the fee is $2 million? Can you see the Fire winning an MLS Cup without its MLS Best XI central defender?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Baky did not quit on the Fire, he decided he would not play for an employer that physically assaulted him. I’d have to agree with him on that one.

  2. I wish Soumare well in his adventures in France. He’s certainly got the talent; he just needs to iron out the kinks. PLaying against top level competition will help that and so will playing for survival (despite Boulogne’s good start). It sad Soumare’s MLS career ended the way it did. It leaves a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. At the end of the day the slate is wiped clean. Everyone involved has a fresh start and all have a little money in their pockets.

  3. Sucks to be whomever it was that bought the Bakary Soumare game-worn jersey up for auction at yesterday’s Fire game. Unless they knew that he was as good as gone, they probably spent the $$$ thinking that he’d be coming back to the team.

  4. Official announcement has been posted on the USBC website:

    Rough trans:
    “The Malian international from the Chicago Fire, Bakary SoumarĂ©, has agreed to a 4 year contract with the Red and Black. The 24 year old was voted the best defender in the American league in 2008.”

    The last sentence helps to explain why his lesser play this season didn’t take the shine off his star in the eyes of foreign clubs.

  5. I second Felix’s comments. It’s unfortunate for the team, but I think after playing with Mali he had bigger things on his agenda than the Fire.

    I don’t hate him for that, and I can’t blame him for letting down a little bit although I am disappointed with his season after his showing last year. There have been other players who have let up a little when they start to think about European transfers – Twellman comes to mind first of all.

  6. There is no way we should have sold him with the injuries and the way we are playing right now. 2.1 mil for a tall, young, international defender is nothing. Now we have Conde who wants out and CJ is done after this year. That leaves us pretty slim in the back next year. So hopefully we can find another Conde from somewhere or we are in trouble.

  7. Good, actually GREAT $ for the Fire. It’s a shame that Baky quit on his teammates. Fine, HATE Hamlett; I am sure hes not the only one, but as a teammate he took a C*ap all over his “mates”. I hope he can learn that there is no “I” in team and grow up in Europe.

  8. As a Fire STH here is the truth:

    Soumare was/is a great defender, who has had some bad moments this season that have made him less steller than last year.

    To all the guys saying he sucks, you clearly know more than European scouts watching him play WCQ matches against world class competition.

    Hamlett sucks. Have you ever seen a team so crappy on set plays (something the coach should work on)? Have you ever seen a team lose posession on the majority of their own throw ins (again something you can drill to make sure everyone knows what to do)?

    Everything about this move depends on what the fire do with the money. If we lose Rolfe, Pappa, Conde, Blanco, Segares and McBride next year we are pretty much screwed, so I hope they can pay some of those guys some cash to stick around, or go find quality guys to fit into the lineup.

    Blanco has said he wants to come back next year.. not sure how I feel about that. Same with McBride. The way Hamlett uses those 2 is criminal.

  9. This from the MLS rules web page……

    The registration windows – the dates between which MLS may request the transfer certificate of an international player – are as follows:

    January 21 – April 15 (Primary Window)

    July 15 – August 14 (Secondary Window

  10. @TJPierce – I think the Fire can make a deep playoff run if Segares, Conde and Ward come back healthy and CJ Brown can stay on the field. But if they go into the playoffs with their roster as is, they have no shot imo.

    As for Baky, I wish him well but the fight definitely leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth a la Conde’s BS. I lost some respect for him as a professional. Hamlett too of course.

    As for the Hamlett bashing, I’m still on the fence w/him. I don’t think the Fire has lived up to their potential, so that inevitably falls on Hamlett’s shoulders. That said, I’m still unsure if he deserves to get fired as they have still done pretty well. After this season is over I’ll be ready to get off the fence one way or another.

  11. Anybody know how Houston was able to acquire Landin outside of the Aug. 14 transfer window?

    (SBI-The agreement has to be in place by the window, not the announcement.)

  12. $2 million is a lot of money. The salary cap for 1 year isn’t much more than that.

    How many players in MLS have been transferred for more? Certainly not Kenny Cooper who was a much more accomplished MLS player than this guy?

    Off the top of my head I’m going to list out guys who have left the league (not going to look up their values – just going from memory).


    Eddie Johnson

    Maurice Edu

    Jozy Altidore

    Freedy Adu

    DaMarcus Beasley to PSV

    Who else? I bet it’s not many more for over $2 million. Remember its only for players transferring out of MLS to foreign teams (foreign players are fair game to consider too!).

  13. Heath Pearce, Christian Vieri, and Pavel Nedved are all currently available. Any of them would look good wearing the red and white of Chicago in 2010.

  14. Grame,

    If Hamlett would have approached Soumare in a professional manner to confront him I don’t think any of us would have a problem with him.

    From most accounts it seems that Hamlett instigated and escalated the confrontation. This appears to be accurate since the Fire organization publicly announced that they were fining him.

    Being a fan does not mean blindly following and agreeing with the company line. IMO, being a fan involves holding your team up to certain standards and expecting nothing but the best.

  15. Charlie Davies will have a field day with how Soumare has played this year. Hell blow by him over and over.

    LIke someone else mentioned look for Conde to punch Hamlett now.

    They do have the same agent after all!!

  16. Baky needed to leave. As previously stated here by others, you could see by his play that his heart wasn’t in it this year.

    He could certainly use a bit of polishing and some additional situational awareness, but I’m sure he will have a long and successful career abroad.

    I’m hoping against all hope that the Fire have secretly completed acquisitions for some defensive help but are waiting to announce them. They are looking pretty threadbare right now. The 2 reserve fullbacks currently playing have no business in a MLS starting XI. I’ve got hope for Washington but Prideaux is done.

    I don’t think the Fire can make a MLS Cup run this year unless Blanco starts playing out of his mind. Can an on-point Blanco carry the Fire to a MLS Cup even when the defense is missing 3 and sometimes 4 starters from the beginning of the season? Thoughts?

  17. As a Fire and MLS fan I’m fine with this. MLS must continue to develop somewhat raw prospects, and sell them later. And I hope that Klopas uses the money to keep the core of the team together.

    Also, now that it’s over, the Fire just got $1.5 million (or however much it turns out to be) for Andy Herron.


  18. How appropriate hes going ther because hes full of Bologny with that fight he orchestratedso that he could to go to europe

  19. As a Soumare fan, I’m happy for him that he gets to go back to France and take the next step in his career plus leave a probably detoriating situation in his case.

    As a Fire fan, I’m saddened that we are losing one of our most talented players and defenders which lessens our chances at going deep in the playoffs.

  20. It is Reading all over again — first-time promotion for this club.

    What an ugly stadium, but it looks like they doubled its size for promotion.

  21. truth be told, Baky hasnt had that great of a season this year. While he is certainly a talented young CB, 2M for a player who was going to leave this winter anyhow is nothing to be upset with. It hurts to lose a talented player who (tho makes mistakes) was a solid CB for the Fire. Hope him the best, but the Fire will move on with the allocation only making them stronger. He was going to be gone anyhow, glad we got something for him… best of luck Baky

  22. True about the 1.5M Ives, but IIRC, league rules only allows up to 500K of the transfer fee to be used on player salaries. So the other posters comment about the 500K would be accurate.

    (SBI-I don’t think there’s a limit in transfer fees so if the Fire go buy some new players from Central American or Africa they can use those funds to pay transfer fees.)

  23. in fact, if every fan supported ALL aspects of the team at ALL times, no team owner would ever have incentive to win, or at least try to win…

  24. I have watched every pro game Soumary has played. He has terrible soccer skills. He cant pass; he is confused on the field; has barely minimal concept of rudimentary soccer. His best move is the back pass to the keeper. This is not an exaggeration. This guy wouldnt make it to my park team. I have always hated “players” like him. He goes to europe only because of legal circumstances: his French passport. And he screws the MLS in the process. So, the method now is: punch your Coach in the face, then get a free transfer? No other player would be allowed to do this. Soumare is scum.

  25. Thank goodness someone here saw how poorly Soumare played this season… holy crap – $2mil+ for someone who gets beaten worse than a Jennifer Jamison pinata at a bar mitzvah is a great deal. Go on take the euros and run. The kid has great potential… it’s just too bad he couldn’t do something with it here.

    BTW you coach-haters – ever think that DH confronted Soumare about his lackluster play like a coach should and that’s what started all this? It’s shameful that you call yourselves Fire fans and it’s people like you that have dropped the standing of Section 8 in many people’s minds around the league. Supporting the team means you support ALL aspects of the team.

  26. I think the Fire was hoping to pick up his option and hold out for a better offer but Hamlett’s unprofessional mishandling of the situation made this impossible.

    The only thing that would make me happier than Hamlett getting canned is Hamlett getting hired by Red Bull.

  27. I honestly don’t like Dennis Hamlett. Some of his choices baffle me and I don’t think he’s that good of a coach. I wish we kept Soumare and fired Hamlett despite our results.

  28. Soumare, v. 2008, might have some chance at holding Davies to no more than a goal in a game.

    Soumare, v. 2009, has no chance at containing Chuck Deez.

  29. This just in: Chicago sells MrBride to Italian outfit AS Typo. Leaving Brian Mcbride as the only ancient striker on their squad.

  30. Wow, I just realized how much this sucks for Chicago. Next year they won’t have Blanco, Soumare or Conde and MrBride will a year older. Ouch.

  31. Glad to see him go. Now if we can get rid of DH we’d be perfect.

    Soumare is good but has too many fouls in crucial areas and he is somewhat of a liability.

  32. I wish him luck. He definitely contributed to the Fire the past couple of years. But his brain has been in France for months and you can’t afford to have that kind of attitude around if you intend to win. (He might have still been a fit in NY where there is no intention of winning)

  33. 500K of allocation cash?

    Hopefully that means a raise for Conde, Sega and Rolfe.

    (SBI-MLS rules changed regarding transfer fee sharing a while ago. The Fire will see much more than just $500K.)

  34. Adios! 2 million isn’t great, but it’s not so bad for someone that doesn’t want to play for your team and city. That said, I hope he flourishes in France for club and Africa for country.

  35. At least a deal got done. MLS lost a quality young CB, but it was just a matter of time until he was gone. Good for him, good for Hamlett, maybe not so good for the team.


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