Should Sofiane Boufal Stay Or Go ?
Tuesday, 27th Aug 2019 10:22
Sofiane Boufal has been a much criticised figure in his three years since joining the club in the summer of 2016, but suddenly he seems to be flavour of the month with some, but is that enough to stop Saints cutting their losses.
A few weeks ago there weren't many Saints supporters with a good word to say about Sofiane Boufal, along with several other signings he was held up as one of the reasons that Saints have been in relegation trouble over the past couple of seasons and a prime example of Les Reed's bungling in the transfer market, paying over the odds for average players and putting them on big money.
Boufal spent all of last season on loan at Celta Vigo where he did not exactly set the world alight, that was the story of his first two seasons with Saints, in 2016/17 he started only 12 Premier League games with the same number of the bench scoring just one goal, with his only other strike coming in the League cup with a wonder goal against Sunderland.
The following season he did little better with just 11 starts in the League with 15 appearances off the bench scoring just twice although one of those was a wonder goal at home to West Bromwich Albion which did as much as any other goal in keeping us up.
So when he went on loan to Celta Vigo a year ago there weren't many mourning his temporary departure, in fact most wished it was permanent.
So when he returned in the summer he was touted as a reason why Saints could not buy players, his big wages needed to be off the books before we could afford to bring in new blood, in short we also needed to recoup as much of the £16 million we had spent on him with little return.
So having been seen as part of the problem why is he suddenly seen as part of the solution, those who were villifying him a few short weeks ago are now salivating and demanding his inclusion.
His goal against Feyenoord pre season was well taken but is 45 minutes in a friendly really enough to suggest that he will be any different than before ?
Certainly he did not have the chance to enhance his reputation at Burnley, coming on with Saints 2-0 down with 17 minutes left and that increasing to 3-0 before he had barely had a touch.
So the only real evidence at a competitive level we have that he could be an asset this season is his 10 minutes at Brighton on Saturday and that was more about the last minute than anything else, it cannot be denied that his run was sublime and his cross perfect for Nathan Redmond to scramble home, but again the question asked is whether that alone is enough, would this contribution be like his others, isolated incidents rather than week in week out.
So Ralph Hasenhuttl has a dilemma here, his issue is not just whether Boufal is a changed man, but whether he has the space in the squad to use him on a regular basis, it is lovely to have a big squad to choose from but the Austrian doesn't work that way, he prefers a compact squad and he now has more than enough attacking options all of whom are ahead of Boufal.
So cost will also be a factor, with the wages he is on he has to be more consistent in both his performances and his impact, otherwise Saints would be better cutting their losses and either loaning him out again or better still selling him whilst he still has a sell on fee.
At the moment he has two years left on his deal, now we might just be able to get something back, in a years time we will have to virtually give him away.
It seems that Boufal will start against Fulham this evening in the cup, it is a big game for him and indeed for Saints, can he persuade the manager he is worth keeping or will it just be a performance that tempts a club on the Continent to take a punt.
Personally I have never had a problem with Sofiane Boufal, but I do doubt whether he can produce the goods consistently in a league as tough as the Premier where it is more than just the odd flash of brilliance, but consistency that counts.
That being the case I am not sure that his cameo on Saturday at Brighton is truly enough to warrant some of the praise he is getting and enough to suggest he could play a meaningful role in the coming season, as much against him in this is the fact that we now have so many other options.
Photo: Action Images
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