Joining a new club midway through the season can be difficult for a footballer, particularly when you are expected to provide instantaneous results.
It then comes as no surprise that most of the players who have been who have moved in the winter break have had little time to adjust to new surroundings and styles of play. As a result, they have failed to leave an impression on their new sides.
However, one player who has made a major impression in the Indian Super League (ISL) is FC Goa’s Hugo Boumous. After replacing Manuel Arana at the club two years ago in the 2018-winter transfer window, Boumous has proved to be the league’s best January arrivals.
Since making his debut for the Gaurs in the 2017-18 season, the Frenchman’s career has gone from strength to strength.
In the 2017-18 season, he popped up with two goals and two assists as FC Goa reached the playoffs. In the 2018 Super Cup, he was the top-scorer for the side as it reached the semi-finals. In the 2018-19 season, Boumous scored three and assisted five to guide FC Goa to a second-place finish. In the Super Cup, he played a major role in his club’s title win.
The young French playmaker always had plenty of technical quality but was unable to demonstrate it on a consistent basis. Hence, Edu Bedia was Lobero’s preferred choice in recent seasons.
However, since penning a new three-year contract extension with the club, his performances have been on a different level. After making just 17 starts in 27 games in the last two seasons, Boumous has started all of Goa’s last 13 games so far.
Boumous’s stats are hard to ignore. He has nine goals and eight assists to his name already this season after 13 games, his best return for FC Goa. He is also leading the direct contribution (goal or assist) chart in the league this season. In short, Boumous is Goa’s biggest chance creator, constantly playmaking and looking for areas in which he can pass the ball that gives his teammates the best chance to score.
Like most No. 10s, Boumous thrives when he has space and time to look for his best option. Often he will create space for himself by laying off a pass to a teammate, and wait until the opposition follows the ball. He will then usually find himself in some space, and ask for the ball back. These quick one-twos catches the opposition off guard, and they leave holes for Boumous to exploit.
Another way Boumous finds space for himself is when he gets really close to the player marking him, and then slightly angle his run. As soon as the ball is played, he sprints away from the defender. This effectively creates a large gap between him and the opponent. This gives him time to pick out the right pass for his teammates.
But not only is Boumous a superb creator, but he is also a competent goal scorer, as the numbers suggest. During his two-and-half seasons in the ISL, he has scored 14 goals from 2676 minutes of play. As an average, that’s a goal every 191 minutes. And that’s not a bad return for an attacking midfielder.
Out of possession though, Boumous’s defensive display needs to improve. He is often a bit clumsy, giving away unnecessary fouls. However, Boumous’s best attributes have always been his creativity. He has been gaining plaudits since the beginning of the season and his vast improvement over the last few seasons surely justifies the faith placed in him.