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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.

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Butty101 added 10:36 - Aug 27
Looking at the mesages boards over the summer, there where plenty calling for Ralph to give him a chance. I think this is going to be his year. Reading the Saints website it sounds like hes bought in and our forward players are having a love in.

helpineedsomebody added 10:45 - Aug 27
if he plays in an attacking team we will see the best of him
but play him with 9 defenders in the team then its a complete waste of time
with the 6 forwards we have now they will give teams REAL problems for the 1st time in years we have more than 1 player attacking the penalty box brightons back 5 were all over the place why becouse we had 3/4 players attacking them its easy when your back 5 are on the front foot not so easy when you are on the back foot thats why liverpool allways have 3/4 players in the box

I_would added 10:46 - Aug 27
We should keep Pacy Prowsey and get rid of that talentless Boufal. No wonder Boufal is on the bench and Pacy Prowsey starts every single time.

I'm sure Pacy Prowsey will come good again after his four match purple patch at some time in the future and perhaps produce an assist or something else to warrant continually starting in front of Djenepo, Boufal an Armstrong. RH knows best.

Boris1977 added 11:03 - Aug 27
Not sure Boufal is flavour of the month but he is one of, if not the, most naturtally gifted footballer at the club. His assist, including the classy turn which wrong footed the defender, is an extremely promising sign that he has possibly added looking/reading for the best option rather than just shooting from an impossible angle or taking on the same player(s) again with no end product. IF this part of his game has genuinely changed he'll be extremely dangerous.

underweststand added 11:46 - Aug 27
Aside from his award-winning goals ..Boufal didn't seem to fit in as a team player.
Puel tried to fit him in without success and both Pellegrino and Hughes just ignored him.

There may (still) be a language problem but Ralph seems to think he can utilise his skills , although I don't see him as a 90 minute player., I think he can be a great asset coming on a a second half sub. when we need a change of direction. He certainly has skill.

By the New Year we can see if he's paying dividends, otherwise if Ralph decides he can't use him , then he will certainly go next year - for better or worse.

Sanguin added 11:55 - Aug 27
Everyone has always been willing to give Boufal the benefit of the doubt. Undoubtedly he has skill and is willing to take players on but, as Redmond suggested recently while praising Boufal, his problem has been his work rate and being unwilling to track back to defend. It sounds like he’s overcoming that.

I’m not sure he’s done enough yet to justify keeping him, albeit he hasn’t had much chance. I only kept watching the Burnley game to see how he did when he came on, I can’t remember him getting a touch. He created a goal from seemingly nothing against Brighton, but it was his fresh legs against ten men who’d been playing in thirty degree heat for eighty minutes. Hopefully he’ll get ninety minutes tonight and seize his chance.

Hasenhuttl has said he’s a fantastic impact sub, as Nick has suggested I’m not sure we can afford to have one of our most highly paid players as an impact sub. I can’t see him ever being a better value player than someone like Djnepo, so while I’d like to keep him I don’t think that keeping him would be cost-effective for the club.

SaintBrock added 12:28 - Aug 27
We should stop speculating over Sofiane Boufal's future here. He is probably the most gifted player on the ball we have. Talent like his needs to be nurtured and honed by a coach who is competent enough to recognise his talent and develop young players.

We have not seen anywhere near the best from the lad simply because of useless prats like Puel & Pellegrino wanting a finished article to bale them out of trouble. As for Hughes and his old school "get rid of it" approach to football, say no more.

I admire the way the lad has settled down, worked hard and forced his way back into the squad rather than have become a sulky wanna-way moaning on the fringes. His attitude in trying is inspiring and his smiles tell you all you need to know.

I for one have never angled for the club to sell Boufal and was angered and frustrated by Hughes' attitude towards him. When Hughes sent him away I was spitting blood and don't remember too many other real fans being that happy about it when we kept playing donkeys like Ward Drosse.

DorsetIan added 12:30 - Aug 27
There is something about Boufal. When he’s on the ball, in the team or even on the bench, there’s always the sense that he might change the game.

To date he hasn’t delivered nearly often enough but I would be very disappointed to see him leave. He adds a bit of magic to a Saints side.

SaintBrock added 12:31 - Aug 27
trying = training

Big_T added 13:11 - Aug 27
I agree with butty101, there has always been a lot of support for Boufal from fans just not much from managers and haters.
Talent skill and the ability to do something different are always needed just not easy to fit into struggling teams.

vanmans added 13:34 - Aug 27
Sofiane Boufal did more in the last ten minutes he was on the field than James Ward-Prowse did all game. Simple answer get rid of Ward-Prowse he offers us nothing.

JGH added 13:49 - Aug 27
Unclear why you dislike him so much Nick but what is clear is that the decision has been made already and he will be staying. Not sure what the point of this article is.

Colburn added 13:57 - Aug 27
STAY! Obviously while he wants to be a part of the revolution.. Sublime gift. Seems to get on well in dressing room. Pellegrino and Hughes were clowns.. Ralph can instill the hunger if anyone can. Definitely worth giving another chance to shine, always feel a chance is coming when he gets the ball.. He's just superb at times, but has to work hard for 90 mins. If he can, we have a diamond.

Colburn added 14:00 - Aug 27
Agree JGH.. Not sure why the debate. The lad is part of the squad. Go Sofi!

nysaint added 14:14 - Aug 27
I was at the Burnley game he did show some good touches. He was great in the preseason game. On Saturday he had 2 or 3 magic moments including one dribble where he resisted the urge to repeat the WBA run. He has talent in magnitude and if he plays with Djnepo and Ings and Redmond he could really be the difference maker; oppositions would struggle to put 2 on him.

BoondockSaint added 15:34 - Aug 27
Still not sure.....
Optimist view: What a great pass to Redmond!
Pessimist view: He never passes! He was going for a glory goal at a crap angle!.

I've been hoping with the new season Ralph can work his magic.....but it seemed more of the same.....holding the ball too long, not passing, trying to bully JWP off the ball again....I am among JWP (hopefully constructive) critics but if the manager designates him as the free kick man, then that's that until Ralph says different (this also dovetails into previous discussions about lack of a proper captain/leader on the pitch who keeps everyone in line and focused).

So fingers crossed. His skills even without passing, should yield a good number of goals against slow defenders on weaker opposition.

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