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.

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68 Responses to Bakary Soumare sold to French club Boulogne

  1. Cyrus says:

    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.

  2. RedLine55 says:

    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.

  3. Matthew says:

    As a Fire fan, I would have rather seen the other member of that fight leave town.

  4. jamin barnes says:

    He’s a good player. best of luck to him.

  5. Jeff says:

    You can read French?

  6. A. Ruiz says:

    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.)

  7. Mike says:

    Kenny Cooper already with a goal today…

  8. STX81 says:

    This is GREAT, unless you’re a Fire supporter. Go NE!

  9. Steve says:

    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)

  10. Kevint says:

    Hamlett is a joke

  11. This Guy says:

    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.

  12. STX81 says:

    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.

  13. Richard says:

    $2,000,000 isn’t a bad fee at all. Good deal even though he was an awesome defender.

  14. STX81 says:

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

  15. cjbrown says:

    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.

  16. Victor says:

    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.

  17. inkedAG says:

    Wow, what a bargain basement price! Go on Bakary, get your boinging Boulogne on!!!

  18. guillermo says:

    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.

  19. advocat says:

    This sucks

  20. Graeme says:

    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.

  21. Blokhin says:

    Hamlett for RBNY! Let’s make this happen!

  22. Blokhin says:

    this isn’t a cult, Graeme, as a fan you are allowed to voice your displeasure over moves by the team that you support.

  23. advocat says:

    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.

  24. Blokhin says:

    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…

  25. SonicDeathMonkey says:

    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.)

  26. brett says:

    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

  27. RK says:

    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.

  28. Felix says:

    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.

  29. mike ruze says:

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

  30. Adam says:

    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.


  31. TJPierce says:

    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?

  32. martha c says:

    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!!

  33. guillermo says:


    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.

  34. Rossi is Judas says:

    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.

  35. John says:

    $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!).

  36. scott says:

    Pearce. Heath Pearce is a free agent, and the Fire have a free roster spot.

  37. guillermo says:

    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.)

  38. Drew says:

    @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.

  39. Frank says:

    Aug 14 transfer window? There is no such thing.

  40. guillermo says:

    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

  41. Chris says:

    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.

  42. chicagosoccerguy says:

    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.

  43. Joe says:

    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.

  44. dolan says:


    You sound like a Cub fan. Back the “lovable losers” no matter what. Pathetic.

  45. Modibo says:

    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.

  46. Modibo says:

    Official announcement has been posted on the USBC website:

    link to

    Rough trans:
    “The Malian international from the Chicago Fire, Bakary Soumaré, 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.

  47. kebzach says:

    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.

  48. Michael Vann says:

    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.

  49. ERIC says:

    osotio back to chicago. hahahahah

  50. John Sweeny says:

    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.

  51. papa bear says:

    I would rather Hamlett leave but hey…

    Soumare has been having a bit rougher a go this year. Still a very promising young talent and it is sad to see him leave.

    @Graeme: That is classic battered wife syndrome. I support the Fire in terms of it as an entity I don’t HAVE to support who is currently in charge of running said entity there is a big difference.

    @dolan: that is the big difference. I am a Cubs fan and will always support them but it doesn’t mean I’m happy to see them lose and don’t always support who is running the team. (nor do most Cubs fans which is something you obviously aren’t aware of)

  52. This Guy says:

    Conde isn’t going anywhere. I don’t know where all of you get your information from (certainly not SBI). Conde and Blanco had an ongoing feud that was settled and now Conde is content in Chicago especially with Blanco leaving next year. Also, Conde took DH’s side on the locker room brawl that including only one push to the head of Hamlett not a fist fight as some of you are implying.
    If you want to start ignorant rumors go to the MLS Rumors site so you can read that Henry and Del Piero are going to the Minnesota Thunder and Cleveland City Stars every week.

  53. This Guy says:

    It’s also funny how the Fire just sold there 3rd best defender to a Ligue 1 team.
    1. Segares
    2. Conde
    3. Baky

  54. chicagosoccerguy says:

    @John Sweeney-

    Ask the players how they feel about it

  55. alex says:

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


    I didn’t know this … although from what i understand the most you can spend on players from that money is = 500k or so.

    Him leaving is good for the league. If MLS can get decent “feeder” status it will open up all kinds of player movements.

  56. zues says:

    Maybe the Fire could use some of that money to bring Nowak back to Chicago and then we can ship the Ham to Philly. I’m conflicted about this. I hate to see Baky go, but don’t want a player here that doesn’t want to be here.

  57. C-note says:

    All the talent in the windy city and its like Sam the Billy Goat but a curse on Toyota Park too.

    There is too much to say about this, I’ll miss Baky, I liked his play. The Fire are finished this season. Ham can go and should go too. I wish Nowak could coach the Fire. Klopas had all the pieces in place, and now…. no way Chicago comes back. Blanco and Rolfe and Pappa and Sega are not enough. I do hate to say that, but I concede this season now.

  58. chelski002 says:

    PLays for Mali? Who knew they even had a team? He goes to basically a second division team in france because of his legal qualifications (French passport which is also a scam). How did he get a French passport? He isnt French. This guy is a hustler plain and simple. This guy is no better than your average college defender. he cant pass the ball 20 meters consistently and safely. he is so clumsy and nearly trips over himself with every bouncing ball. Make no mistake, he will ride the bench. if this makes it in pro soccer, it is a very bad sign for soccer lovers.

    (SBI-Soumare grew up living in France.)

  59. Teo says:

    Chelski, FYI, Mali boasts a squad of players like Freddie Kanoute who plays for Sevilla in Spain, nearly led La Liga in scoring two years ago; Seydou Keita who played a role on Barcelona’s historic run last year; Mamadou Diarria, who has captained Real Madrid on numerous occasions; Mohammed Sissoko, who used to start for Liverpool and know plays for Juventus, along with numerous other players who play in Europe. Guess you know Mali has a team now….

    (kinda wish the US could have a team with that much talent)

  60. firefan06 says:

    Hope France likes seeing long balls from the back straight to the other team’s defenders.

    Soumare has potential, but as others have stated his play this season has been a huge step down from last year.

    P.S. @guillermo – if you’re going to use a public fine as a measure of guilt, you should also mention that Soumare was publicly fined too.

  61. guillermo says:


    Soumare was fined as he should have been. What is inexcusable to me is Hamlett continuing to act like Soumare was all to blame.

  62. Kyle says:

    Soumare is a punk who will never break into a starting 11 in any major league. He has some of the worst technical skills and his brain seems to be ticking at a slower beat then everyone else when he has the ball. He is a more physically gifted version of Jay Heaps.

  63. Ron says:

    Denis Hamlett is a scum bag who shouldn’t be coaching.

  64. chicagosoccerguy says:

    scum bag really… grow up…

  65. advocat says:

    This is all a scam. Reminds me of the sanneh MLS fiasco: he has played 5-10 games since 2003 and has made millions. Isnt Sanneh from gambia? Bukry Somre cant pass the safely 20 meters. I have yet to see him make one (one!!) decent pass in two frickin’ years. He is a zero on set plays because he has no timing. This guy couldnt play for most club teams in chicago 20 years ago. Schwaben, Kickers, Green white would have thrown him in the Lake.

  66. advocat says:

    Soumare grew up in New York not France. Although he was birthed in Africa. His connections to France is essentially zero. He received a French passport through litigation not birth-right.

    (SBI-Are you even familiar with his story? For someone who apparently only started commenting in order to bash Soumare, you should at least know his story.)

  67. chelski002 says:

    The Fire/MLS should have sent him to a USl team to finish out the season. This sets a bad precedent for the league. I predict Soumre never plays a real game for Mali or even Boulogn. This is one hyper egotistical rat. I am not sure he knows the ball is round. I refuse to believe he actually grew up playing soccer. he has the soccer coordination of someone who started as a teenager.

  68. Madeleine W. says:

    this is an untimely event. the fire is in big trouble right now. their origional back 4 are all out of the line up. due to injury, transfer ect. The are forced to bring on 2nd string, unexperienced defenders. Hopefully they will learn enough by the time the playoffs come. The fire were sure to make it to the mls championship a month ago. but after mcbride’s surgery. all the injuries and noe soumare gone. the future remains a mystery. *not to mntion blanco will be leaving next year.