It hasn’t been the kind of start Claude Puel would have wanted at Southampton. After three Premier League games, the Saints have just two points on the board. Europa League will be there this season to test the Saints’ resilience and from what we have seen so far if Southampton fail to improve, all their good work over the lat four seasons could go in vain.
Southampton have been hit with massive departures this summer as players like Sadio Mane, Victor Wanyama and Graziano Pelle have left the club. Nathan Redmond, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Jeremy Pied and Alex McCarthy had been signed by the south coast club but that extra bit of spark was clearly missing. Every club needs a player who stands out from the rest by an example, like Eden Hazard at Chelsea or Philippe Coutinho at Liverpool but there is no such player at St. Mary’s right now.
However, Southampton have that special player now as they have shattered their club transfer record to sign Sofiane Boufal from Lille. BBC claims that Lille made £16m from the sale of the 22-year-old attacking midfielder. This deal makes the Morocco international Southampton’s club record signing eclipsing Dani Osvaldo’s £14m move from Roma in 2013.
Boufal is a highly rated attacking midfielder and has often been christened as the ‘Next Eden Hazard’. The Morocco international resembles Hazard both in terms of physique and style of play. Just like the Belgian superstar, Boufal also burst onto the scene with Ligue 1 giants Lille. The 22-year-old has been consistently linked with a number of Premier League clubs and it will be a nice statement of intent from the Saints to acquire the highly-rated playmaker’s signature.
Boufal offers his best when deployed as a number ten but is also useful on the flanks. Technically brilliant, the 22-year-old is an excellent dribbler and can tear apart the strongest of back lines. The 22-year-old, in his just one and half season with Lille, has proved that he deserves a move to a bigger stage with a bigger club.
Like Eden Hazard, Boufal is an ambidextrous player and likes to drift inside with the ball. The 22-year-old has a blistering pace in his locker and is a very unpredictable player. An excellent set-piece taker, the Saints will benefit from all aspects with Boufal’s signature. A versatile, tricky and fleet-footed attacking midfielder, Boufal has what it takes to kickstart Claude Puel’s era at Southampton and could be a player to watch out for the rest of the season.