Photo by ISIphotos.com
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.