Brendan Rodgers has suggested that it was wrong for expectations of Boubakary Soumare to be so high upon his arrival at Leicester City last summer.
Having helped Lille win the Ligue 1 title in 2020-21, many felt that the midfielder would fit seamlessly into Rodgers’s setup at the King Power Stadium.
However, the former France Under-21 international was limited to just 12 starts and seven substitute appearances in the Premier League, with a further nine outings coming in Europe.
Despite talk of a return to his homeland during the summer, Soumare remained in the East Midlands, making three starts and featuring as a substitute on two occasions during the Foxes’ difficult start to the campaign.
As a result of a hamstring injury sustained by Wilfred Ndidi, the 23-year-old stands to earn more regular game time over the coming weeks.
While Rodgers stopped short of insisting that he expected a higher level from the £17m signing, the Northern Irishman feels that Soumare will ‘only improve over time’.
Speaking to reporters at a press conference, Rodgers said: ” With Bouba, we have to recognise that there’s no time given to players. I remember a time when a top-class player would have gone to Liverpool and then you wouldn’t hear of them for a year. There was never any questions asked. They were learning their trade. When they were ready, they were brought into the team.
“Nowadays, because of the spotlight, people expect players to be ready straight away. Has he fallen out with the manager? Does he not like training? He came into a new country and a new style. He didn’t speak the language. It’s been tough. He’s done really well. He’ll get an opportunity now. The improvements are that bit more anticipation.
“He’s settled well. He’s become a father and matured and understands life better, and understands what it takes to succeed in the Premier League. The beauty of Bouba is that he has all of the physical qualities. He has the technical qualities. He just had to adapt to our pressing and filling spaces at the right moment. In time he will improve.”
Soumare is in line to feature in the starting lineup when Leicester square off against Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Leicester head into the fixture on the South coast looking to build on their emphatic 4-0 victory over Nottingham Forest on Monday night, the club’s first top-flight success of the season.
Their opponents will be attempting to avoid equalling a new club record when they welcome potential rivals for survival to their home ground.