Southampton winger Sofiane Boufal spent last season on loan at La Liga outfit Celta Vigo, but returned to St Mary’s this summer and has so far slotted straight back into the first-team fold under manager Ralph Hasenhuttl.
The Moroccan has notched two assists in six Premier League appearances for the southerners this term and has looked an invigorated player upon returning from his loan spell in Spain.
Speaking to the Daily Echo this week, the 26-year-old admitted that he is enjoying being back on the south coast and that he never wanted to leave the club, even after being shipped out on loan last season.
“[Of course] I am very happy to be here,” said the winger.
“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 also spoke about his relationship with manager Hasenhuttl, admitting that he was not nervous to meet the Austrian for the first time during the summer.
“It was a meeting where it was just about his philosophy and what it’s like to play in his team and everything else,” said the former Lille playmaker.
“I wasn’t nervous [to meet Hasenhuttl] because I was very, very focused on staying here – even if some other club wanted me. I didn’t want to move and since the first day, I have been very focused.
“We always need to prove but, yes, I need to prove the most because I left the club not in a good way, so of course I wanted to show people I am here, and I will help you.”
Boufal is one of the most exciting footballers Southampton have available to them; on his day, he can produce moments of absolute brilliance, as seen with his spectacular solo goal against West Brom in 2017.
This season alone, he has provided two assists and averaged 3.3 dribbles and 1.3 key passes per game (as per WhoScored), clearly showing his effectiveness in Southampton’s attacking third.
If Boufal can retain this level of performance throughout the campaign, he can be a huge asset for the Saints, who also have the likes of Moussa Djenepo and Nathan Redmond available to them in the wide areas – two more players of fantastic quality.
Southampton fans, what do you make of Boufal’s sentiments about the club? Let us know what you think by commenting below!
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