Club: Slavia Prague
At the start of 2015, Tomáš Souček was loaned to Viktoria Žižkov in order to gain experience.
By the end of the year, he was one of Slavia Prague’s most important asset. He wasn’t quite a Milan Škoda or a Simon Deli, but he wasn’t far off.
Primarily a defensive midfielder (with some licence to roam), Souček quietly went about his business; he did doing the dirty work, stifled attacks, popped up in the opposing box from time to time and provided the base for his more creative teammates to flourish.
After only fifteen top flight games, people were talking in hushed tones about a potential call-up to the senior national side.
Tomáš Souček is now a full Czech international. On paper, that sounds great and could be used as evidence that his career has continued on a sharp upwards trajectory. Rather regrettably, though, his nomination (and inclusion) for a throw-away friendly against Denmark in November had little to do with his current form or standing in the game and more to do with politics.
At the start of the year, everything was going perfectly. The midfielder continued to excel in Dušan Uhrin Jr’s ever-improving Slavia side and he got better with every passing week, forging a dynamic and often exemplary partnership with Josef Hušbauer.
During the spring, Souček showed an increased willingness to get forwards and transitioned from a defensive shield to a true all-action midfielder. The game against Baník Ostrava was a prime example of his progression: He stayed back to provide cover when necessary, bombed forward when the chance presented itself, And although he looked a little bit like a rabbit caught in the headlines when advancing, he bagged a well-deserved hat-trick.
At the end of the 2015-16 league season, Souček had played twenty-nine games, scored seven times and was the league’s third most successful tackler behind Jakub Jugas and Michael Lüftner. As an all-around central midfielder, he had it all – nobody could be compared to Slavia’s unearthed gem.
But over the summer, things took a turn for the worse. Flush with money from Chinese investment, Slavia Prague spent big and this cash-happy transfer policy would eventually be Souček’s undoing.
With a title challenge now a minimum expectancy, Slavia inflated their squad with talent. The signing of Gino van Kessel from Trenčín was a bold, extravagant statement. Many came through the doors at Eden, including Cameroonian international Michael Ngadeu from Botoșani, and Jasmin Ščuk, from Mladá Boleslav.
This influx caused problems and after a stuttering start to the 2016-16, Dušan Uhrin Jr was dismissed and Tomáš Souček’s year took a complete nosedive.
Jaroslav Šilhavý is a good manager (a very, very good manager in fact) but it’s blindingly obvious that he does not see the Havlíčkův Brod-born midfielder in his plans. Why? Well, we’re not quite sure. Šilhavý likes to deploy one defensive shield in his midfield quartet, be it a 4-1-3-2 or his currently favoured 4-1-4-1. After starting the season at centre-back, Michael Ngadeu has moved forward out of the back four to fill that role while Jasmin Ščuk has often been brought on to help shore things up late on.
With Hušbauer, Jaromír Zmrhal and Antonín Barak occupying the advanced midfield roles and in rich veins for form, Souček’s face just doesn’t seem fit anymore.
Slavia have once again strengthened their squad, bringing in Jan Sýkora and Marko Alvir to add even more competition to an already bloated midfield cadre. If it wasn’t clear towards the end of 2016, it’s blindingly obvious now: Tomáš Souček has to move. Eden is not the paradise it once was.
- Posted by Chris Boothroyd
- On 20th January 2017