The Chicago Fire revealed their second new offseason signing today, announcing the addition of French right-back Arnaud Souquet from Montpellier.
Souquet arrives in Chicago on a free transfer, bringing a decade of European experience to the Fire dressing room. He has appeared 12 times this season in Ligue 1, though only three of his games were starts. Souquet has 4 goals and 6 assists during his three-and-a-half-year stay at Montpellier; previously, he played for Gent, Nice, and Dijon.
With starter Boris Sekulić and backup Jhon Espinoza leaving the club this winter, right-back was always going to be a huge priority for the Fire going into 2023. Souquet is primarily a right-back, though he has appeared on the left side this season as well as on the wing. Presumably, he’ll fit in as the starting right-back for the Fire, which was a vacant position coming into the year. Sekulić set a solid floor last season at the position, but Souquet will likely have a smaller impact on the salary cap and should hopefully play a bigger role in the attack.
Souquet’s defensive stats appear solid. Despite his limited minutes this year, he sits 4th among Ligue 1 defenders for defensive duels won per 90 with 12.15 and a success rate of 66.7%. However, his attacking numbers do not stand out. Souquet places 75th among French league defenders for average crosses per 90 (1.35) and only has an accuracy of 16.7%. His additional crossing, passing, and shooting stats do not stand out either, so he is not quite the attacking all-action fullback that many expected would be preferred to Sekulić.
Though Souquet brings a resumé with over 200 appearances in a top 5 league, he does not appear on paper to be the clear upgrade at right back that the Fire need. He has just over 350 minutes this season for a team that is battling relegation in Ligue 1. Regardless, his experience should be a valuable addition to a very young dressing room, and he might end up being a perfect fit to replace Sekulić.
Nonetheless, the Fire will still need to sign at least one more right back to ensure that the first team has a backup in that position, and it's very possible that Souquet doesn’t end up being the starter, depending on who the other right back is. It is a low-risk free transfer and could work out very well if Souquet finds his best form in MLS.