Celtic could become embroiled in a transfer battle over the potential signing of winger Mohamed Elyounoussi, who is currently on loan at the club from English Premier League outfit Southampton.
Football Insider reported that Neil Lennon wants to sign the Norwegian permanently once his loan expires at the end of this season but they could face competition from La Liga club Real Sociedad, who have identified him as one of their primary summer targets.
According to Football Insider, Southampton consider the 25-year-old dispensable and are open to offers in the region of £8m-£10m.
Elyounoussi made an excellent start to life at Celtic, scoring seven goals in his first 12 games for the Hoops during the autumn. However, he incurred a foot injury while on international duty with Norway in November and, an abortive Betfred Cup final appearance aside, had to wait until this month to get back on the pitch.
His return to fitness has not automatically led to his restoration to the team. In fact, he has made just one start so far in 2020, the Scottish Cup win over Clyde, having had to rely on substitute appearances or being left on the bench altogether for Premiership and Europa League games. [via TransferMarkt]
That may well be down to Lennon’s change of system from the 4-2-3-1 he often utilised prior to the mid-season break to the 3-5-2 he has most commonly used since the New Year. The currently preferred setup has seen Greg Taylor playing as a roving wing-back on the left and earning positive reviews for his performances, with Elyounoussi unable to forge his way into the starting line-up as a result.
The longer that Elyounoussi spends out of Lennon’s preferred XI, the harder it could become for Celtic to sign him permanently if he feels he would struggle to get in the team. However, all it may take for the picture to change is an injury to Taylor or a shortage of alternative left-backs to prompt the manager to revert to the previously preferred 4-2-3-1 setup.
That, or a loss of form from the Scottish left-back, could prompt a change in tack from Lennon and see Elyounoussi regain his place. He showed with his pre-injury scoring return that he offers a substantial goal threat, while the January departures of Scott Sinclair and Lewis Morgan have significantly reduced the competition for the left winger berth. Therefore, it’s not hard to see why the Hoops would want to keep him permanently and they ought not to make him feel neglected with Real Sociedad also lurking.
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