May 27, 2024

The £16 million transfer deal that brought Sofiane Boufal to Southampton FC in 2016 appeared promising but ultimately proved to be disappointing.

Moroccan international Sofiane Boufal joins Al-Rayyan SC – Assahifa

Southampton, riding high after finishing sixth in the Premier League, sought to add star quality to their team under new manager Claude Puel. With the likes of Sadio Mané and Dušan Tadić already providing creativity, Boufal’s arrival was expected to further enhance their attacking options.

Boufal, who had showcased his talent at Lille with 11 goals and an appearance in the Coupe de la Ligue final, was regarded as one of Europe’s brightest prospects. However, despite showing flashes of his skill, he struggled to match the work rate of his teammates and failed to consistently deliver on the pitch.

His tenure at Southampton saw him score just five goals in three seasons, with moments of brilliance such as his memorable solo goal against West Brom overshadowed by his overall inconsistency. Boufal’s physicality and defensive contributions were also questioned, leading to limited opportunities under different managerial regimes, including Mauricio Pellegrino and Mark Hughes.

Boufal’s loan spell at Celta Vigo provided him with regular playing time but failed to reignite his career, as he continued to struggle for form. Upon his return to Southampton, he found himself marginalized under manager Ralph Hasenhüttl’s structured system, which prioritized discipline and hard work.

Ultimately, Boufal’s time at Southampton ended after just one season under Hasenhüttl, as he sought a return to France with Angers. There, he regained his form and became a key creative force before eventually moving to Qatar in 2022.

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