Sofiane Boufal admits that he is “excited” to be back at Southampton after a season away from the Premier League outfit, via the club’s official website.
The Moroccan winger spent last season on loan at Celta Vigo, but returned for pre-season at the start of the summer in preparation for the 2019-20 campaign.
Boufal was introduced as a substitute in the Saints’ opening day defeat to Burnley, but left out of the squad for the visit of Liverpool a week later.
The 25-year-old returned to the squad for the club’s trip to Brighton on Saturday, though, and was influential in a promising 2-0 win for Southampton, setting up Nathan Redmond in the second-half to seal all three points for the visitors at the Amex.
The former Lille man lined up against Fulham in the EFL Cup last night, too, playing 90 minutes for the Saints as they narrowly edged past the Cottagers in west London.
After a goalless first 45 minutes of action, Boufal revealed that manager Ralph Hasenhuttl inspired Southampton to a second-half victory with his half-time team talk.
“To be more aggressive and press higher when we don’t have the ball,” Boufal said, when asked about the manager’s half-time instructions.
“We feel we can do something when we press high. We recovered a lot of balls in this part of the pitch and we were very dangerous. We could’ve scored more goals,” he added.
The Saints clinched the win thanks to a well-taken goal from 19-year-old striker Michael Obafemi ten minutes after the break.
“We were very good without the ball, we pressed well and we scored a beautiful goal from Mikey with good work from Nathan,” said Boufal.
The North African was making his first competitive start for the Saints since returning from his loan spell in Spain.
“I’m very happy and very excited to be back at this club,” he said. “I’ve worked very hard to be on this team and I’m very happy with my start to the season. I hope I will do better.”
Boufal has shown real flashes of potential in a Southampton shirt since joining the club from Lille in 2016, notably his stunning solo goal against West Brom two seasons ago. He has all the qualities a team would look for in a winger: quick, agile and technically gifted (as explained by Bleacher Report in 2015).
If he can channel that in the right manner this season, we could well finally start to see him start to kick on in the top-flight.
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