Manchester United, Chelsea fights to capture Boubakary Soumare

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Lille midfielder Boubakary Soumare will reportedly choose to join either Manchester United or Chelsea during the January transfer window.

Arsenal are said to be no longer in the running for the sought-after Lille midfielder, and neither are Real Madrid nor Valencia.

United and Chelsea have held talks over the player but no decision is expected to be made before Lille play Paris-Saint-Germain on January 26.

The 20-year-old, who has two-and-a-half years left on his Lille contract, is a box-to-box midfielder in the mould of Paul Pogba and has impressed across 23 appearances in all competitions this season, including six in the Champions League.

Soumare is expected to be the only one of Lille’s promising young stars to be sold this month, despite 21-year-old striker Victor Osimhen and 22-year-old centre-back Gabriel also being tracked by top clubs from across Europe.

The France U21 international was signed from Paris Saint-Germain on a free transfer by Lille’s highly-rated sporting director Luis Campos.

Soumare will cost United or Chelsea north of £40m – not bad for a young player who Lille acquired for nothing from PSG’s youth system. He’s the latest gem uncovered and polished by Lille’s sporting director Luis Campos.

His list of big-money successes includes turning Anthony Martial, Nicolas Pepe, Fabinho, James Rodriguez, Kylian Mbappe, Bernardo Silva and Benjamin Mendy from virtual unknowns into household names.

Two other Lille youngsters, striker Victor Osimhen and central defender Gabriel, are also coveted by big European clubs. But they will not leave until the summer window.

A source close to Soumare describes him as “Paul Pogba without the baggage”. Obviously he’s not Pogba class yet, but certainly has the potential to emulate his compatriot.

Chelsea is back in transfer business this window, and Soumare fits their current model well. Another promising, gifted youngster. Frank Lampard can probably picture him linking up with Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount.

Fellow Frenchman N’Golo Kante would be there to help and guide Soumare on to even greater heights. That may prove a decisive element.

Sky Sports will bring you the very latest news from the January transfer market with the return of three shows.

Start your day with Good Morning Transfers at 9am as our team of reporters bring you the latest news and insight. Transfer Talk then follows at midday delivering analysis of the biggest stories. Then join us at 7pm for the definitive round-up of the day’s news with The Transfer Show.