Signed by Claude Puel at Southampton after a great season with Lille, Sofiane Boufal was meant to be the club’s new superstar to replace the departing Sadio Mané.
Unfortunately, through a variety of reasons, that hasn’t happened yet, and the last few months have been particularly difficult for the Morocco international, who found himself pushed to one side by the club, forced to train by himself or with the reserves.
Not even featuring on the bench for the last five games of the season after falling out with the squad and Mark Hughes, everything points towards a transfer away from St Mary’s in the summer; something the player wouldn’t exactly be against if the right opportunity arose.
Speaking to SFR Sport on Monday evening, the forward was asked if he felt his best option in the summer was to leave the club, and his answer was a simple “yes”.
Pushed further on whether he wanted a Southampton exit, he explained: “I’m still under contract, but it’s true my objective is to go somewhere else, to find a new project that suits the way I play perfectly, and to find a club that helps me progress and a manager that counts on me a lot.”
Then came the question of where he would like to go, with Mohamed Bouhafsi planting the seed of a return to France and potentially Marseille, who have been vaguely linked recently.
He said, relayed by RMC Sport: “I’d be very interested in a return to France. A good club in France that plays for Europe, I’d be, of course, very interested. It’s a league I know. I know the language. I was born in France. It’s true that a return to France wouldn’t displease me.
“Marseille remains a big club. They’re in the final of the Europa League this year. With the passion, the fans, the stadium, the manager, of course Marseille interests me. If they’re interested, why not sign for Marseille.”
Of course, before any of this happens, Southampton would have to agree a fee with the Ligue 1 side, and it remains to be seen how much the Saints will want for Boufal.
While his form hasn’t been the best since his arrival, there is still a lot of undeniable potential there, as well as three years left on his current deal.
They might not make a profit or get the full £17m they spent on him in the first place back, but they can probably ask for somewhere around £15m without sounding too unreasonable.