Sofiane Boufal joined Southampton from Lille on a five-year deal for a club-record undisclosed fee on Monday, the English club announce...
Sofiane Boufal joined Southampton from Lille on a five-year deal for a club-record undisclosed fee on Monday, the English club announced via its official website.
Saints fans may have to wait for a few weeks yet to see him demonstrate his skills, as Sofiane had a delayed start to his pre-season training and will be working very hard with our fitness staff to get up to full match fitness.
At just 22 years of age, he will undoubtedly continue to improve as a player, and we’re very pleased that he will be able to make that progression with us here at Southampton.
The winger arrives after just one-and-a-half seasons with Lille, where he had an impressive impact. Last season, Boufal was a highlight in an otherwise mediocre campaign for the Ligue 1 outfit, who finished fifth in France's top flight.
The Morocco international bagged 11 goals in the French top flight last year and was unfortunate not have provided more than four assists—according to Squawka, he created 69 chances, bettered only by three players in the division.
He also completed an incredible 124 take-ons—only Hatem Ben Arfa made more successful dribbles with 149, per Squawka—and he showed his willingness to win back possession for his side, winning 44 tackles.
Here are some of his best moments
As the video demonstrates, Boufal—who can play on either flank or centrally—has great potential thanks to his ability to create moments of magic out of nothing and stretch defences with skilful dribbling.
An unfortunate consequence of his desire to win the ball is his lack of discipline, which can be an issue. He picked up 11 yellow cards and was sent off twice last season, one being a straight red card.
His decision-making in the final third also needs improvement. The youngster can beat defenders regularly but sometimes ignores easy passing options and ends up down blind alleys.
The Saints lost Sadio Mane and Graziano Pelle earlier this summer, and Nathan Redmond was their only attacking recruit prior to their capture of Boufal.
In snapping up the attacker, they have gone some way toward replacing the players they sold, and the likes of Charlie Austin and Shane Long should thrive off his creativity and the opportunities he can make in the final third.
While he may not be an out-and-out centre-forward, he will undoubtedly make Southampton far more threatening.
Boufal is raw but has potential in abundance. If he receives the right coaching, he's got an excellent opportunity to live up to the hype—and if he does that, he'll become a real star.