Middlesbrough opinion: Signing Pape Souare would be a gamble by Boro
New Boro manager Jonathan Woodgate has expressed his desire to bring the 29-year-old Senegalese international to Teesside this summer as a part of his squad rebuild, with Souare’s imminent availability on a free transfer putting the Championship side on red alert.
Souare made only a solitary appearance for Palace in the Premier League this past season and it is highly unlikely that the Eagles would offer him an extension on his current deal.
The 29-year-old played a key role for the South London outfit in the top-flight back in the 2015-16 season but a life-threatening car crash in 2016 derailed his progress and he has never really been able to find his feet ever since.
That, however, hasn’t stopped Middlesbrough from pursuing a keen interest in the left-back. Souare’s ill-fated spell at Selhurst Park hasn’t enhanced his reputation, even though fitness related issues following that car crash played a big role in his downfall.
The 29-year-old missed out on a place in Senegal’s squad for the 2018 FIFA World Cup last summer due to his lack of regular minutes at Palace but he might as well be offered an escape route to stay in England, with Boro weighing up a move for him.
Souare, who made his move to Crystal Palace from French Ligue 1 outfit Lille back in January 2015, quickly established himself as the first-choice left-back at the club and made as many as 34 appearances in the Premier League in the 2015-16 season.
However, his career has been on a downward spiral ever since that car crash incident, with the Senegalese international spending long spells on the treatment table and starting only three league games over the course of the past three campaigns.
The left-back has made only 63 appearances for Palace in all competitions, which is certainly not a lot to write about. Highly-rated in France in his younger days at Lille, Souare showed glimpses of his talent and potential at Selhurst Park in his first full season but at 29, it looks increasingly difficult for him to resurrect his career and rediscover his old form.
The move certainly seems like a big gamble considering that the 29-year-old hasn’t played enough football since his accident.
Middlesbrough are currently not crying out for a new left-back but it is true that they need to bring in a versatile left-sided player to cope with the departure of Stewart Downing.
Southampton loanee Sam McQueen has returned to his parent club but Boro still have the services of George Saville and George Friend to call upon next season.
Souare, who was known for his pace, power and ability to run aggressively at his opposite number in his earlier days, certainly fits the bill at Teesside in terms of quality and experience.
However, considering that he has struggled to get himself back to full fitness since his accident coupled with the fact that his wages are of the Premier League standard, Boro should look at other alternatives in the market if they are really serious about bringing in a new left-sided player.
Well, some might argue that Souare deserves a second chance to get his career back on track but it really doesn’t make any sense for Middlesbrough to shoulder the responsibility of offering him an escape route.
Moreover, he is not getting any younger at 29 and in all honesty, this looks more of a Tony Pulis kind of signing and not the sort of player that the club should look to target this summer now that Woodgate is at the helm of affairs.
Souare doesn’t seem to have the fitness level to feature in the first-team week in week out in a highly competitive league such as the Championship, and having him in the ranks might as well have a negative impact on Boro’s surge for promotion.
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Having said that, Middlesbrough should look for a more reliable alternative to Souare as bringing the Senegalese international to the club would be a big gamble.