When Sofiane Boufal returned to Southampton this summer after a year away with Celta Vigo, not many would have predicted the Moroccan international to make a comeback as impressive as this.
Though the 26-year has only managed two assists so far this season as numbers from Transfermarkt show, Boufal has more or less proven to most supporters that he is a new man following his loan spell in Spain.
The winger looks more alert, more hungry, and as xA numbers from Understat show, Boufal is making a significant impact on the pitch with the Paris-born attacker registering the highest xA figure in the entire Southampton squad with 1.76.
And it appears that this sudden upturn of productivity could be down to Boufal always wanting to remain at the Saints despite being shipped out on loan for the season last year.
In an interview with The Southern Daily Echo, the Moroccan international said: “(Of course) I am very happy to be here. My mindset was to always stay here. I spoke with the club during the summer and told them that I didn’t want to move and that I wanted to stay here.
“I am very motivated and happy to come back. I want to progress at this club and stay here. I want to leave the club through a big door and not a small door.”
Boufal was once dubbed as ‘the new Eden Hazard’ by Bleacher Report during his time at Lille, and although the winger has not developed as well as many would have expected following his move to the Saints, the attacker is starting to prove this season that he has what it takes to succeed in the English top-flight.
The 26-year-old’s comeback into the first-team has been one of the success stories of the season for Southampton, and supporters will be hoping that Boufal continues this incredible revival in the senior squad and leads the Saints back to their former glories.