French youngster Soualiho Meite has been in the news of recent for being a wanted man in the EPL come January. The 22-year-old Lille midfielder who is currently on loan in Belgium with Zulte-Waregem has attracted the likes of Liverpool, Everton, West Ham, Dortmund and Schalke 04 following an impressive start to the season.
Why are these clubs so interested in a young player whose name is hardly known in Europe? The Merseyside clubs have particularly shown interest in Soualiho, with both Liverpool and Everton sending representatives to watch him in Belgium, and the battle for his signature come January looks to be mainly between the 2.
Soualiho has represented his nation of birth through 4 age-grade groups, starting out at with the under-16 before progressing to join the under-17 contingent that made it to the quarterfinals of 2011 under-17 World Cup.
In the same year, he put pen to paper for his first professional contract with Auxerre having spent 4 years within the youth ranks. And he became a regular face on the Ligue 2 side’s bench, proceeding to make 22 total appearances until the end of 2012.
Soualiho’s swift growth and development attracted a couple of Ligue 1 sides, but it was Lille who landed his services for £1.3million in the winter transfer window of 2013. After 19 games for the reserve team, he gained promotion to the main team, making 30 appearances until his loan.
It is at the Belgium – Pro League his stocks have risen. Since the season kicked off in July ending, Soualiho has played all 9 league games, completing all but 1. And his influence at the heart of the midfield has been one of the reasons Zulte Waregem are currently top of the league table.
Style of Play
Always a strong presence on the pitch, the defensive midfield prodigy could be the next Patrick Vieira. His standout qualities are his vision and ability to shoot from long range.
Being able to make clean tackles (has only been booked once this season) and make connecting short and long passes, Soualiho’s box-to-box properties as a DM stand him out amongst the crowd, and it’s understandable why Klopp and Koeman, despite their quality squads still want to add him to their ranks.
Where will he fit in
Soualiho Meite is far from your average defensive midfielder, and he will hold his own in any top side in a few seasons from now. Lille rejected any bids for him during the summer as they were convinced of his quality, hence sending him on loan to continue his growth and development.
Also able to play centrally in a midfield or 3, the French youth international can bring both quality attacking and defensive verve to the table. Shielding the defenders and also providing support for the attackers.
A more defence-minded 5-man midfield formation with 2 players ahead of rearguard will deploy Meite alongside an attacking midfielder.
In both roles, he fits the bill perfectly, and even though he is more likely to be the 2nd option in Liverpool, his potentials can make him a contender for a starting berth earlier than expected, and splashing £6million for a long-term plan is worth it.