Southampton were hopeful that we’d have a bit of a gem on our hands when we captured Moroccan international Sofiane Boufal from Lille back in the summer of 2016, but the spell at St Mary’s Stadium hasn’t been a great success really.
The now 25-year-old had a natural period of adjustment to the Premier League but apart from moments where we saw his skill, he’s struggled to adapt and his record so far for the reported £16million is 29 starts, with 30 appearances from the substitutes bench and he’s contributed four goals.
Whether he now comes more into Ralph Hasenhuttl’s thoughts remain to be seen, but Mark Hughes shipped him out to Celta Vigo last summer and he had a reasonable spell at the club, scoring three times in 25 starting appearances and ten showings from the bench, and reports in Spain (via the Daily Echo have suggested that the Spanish side would welcome him back on a permanent deal this summer, but not for what we apparently agreed the buy clause would be – £13million.
Boufal himself hasn’t yet spoken about his future unless I’ve missed an interview, but if Celta are viewing him as a ‘second option’ we’ll have to see if we are tempted to give a bit more wriggle room in the fee to help ease through a departure.
In Hasenhuttl we trust and given the impact he’s had on other players at the club, there’s reason for optimism that he could have a similar effect on Boufal given a full pre-season programme.
Celta Vigo will also be returning Wesley Hoedt to us, as his spell with them wasn’t great either. He made ten appearances in total following his departure in the January window, but he was sent off (two bookable offences) on his debut and they only won one game in his other appearances.
With Hasenhuttl making a quick change when it came to the 25-year-old Dutchman, you wouldn’t put money on a clean slate being given now.