Watt View - So near yet So-fiane for Boufal
Thursday, 10th Sep 2020 08:06 by Matt Watts
Our poll on Sofiane Boufal showed the fan base is still split about him, this week Matt gives the case for the defence and why we should keep him.
There has been much discussion this week concerning the future of Saints' Moroccan international Sofiane Boufal.
Reports suggest the club may be willing to cut its losses on the £16 million man for as little as £3.5 million.
Since his arrival at St Mary's in 2016 he has split opinion as a result of his inability to perform consistently while periodically delivering moments of exceptional quality.
The statistics don't present a picture of resounding success for an attacking midfielder, with 83 appearances and five goals over three seasons (and three goals in 35 games on loan at Celta Vigo last season).
However, he is undoubtedly a special football player.
His top moments can be recalled easily by most Saints fans, from his debut curling effort against Sunderland in the League Cup in 2016, to his 30-yard match-winning strike against Middlesbrough a couple of months later and his unforgettable solo run at home to West Brom.
The latter earned him the Premier League's Goal of the Season award in 2017-18 - and they are not easy to come by.
Then there are the sublime skills, such as at the Etihad against Manchester City in 2017 when he took three defenders out of the game, ghosted past Fabian Delph and slotted in Oriol Romeu for the equaliser.
As a then-record signing when he completed his move from Lille on a lengthy five-year deal, understandably he commanded a significant wage.
That is no doubt on the minds of those fans who would not argue against Boufal’s departure in the very near future - and I can understand that perspective.
A poll of fans on TUI this week showed 62.4% of participants would be happy for him to go now, with 26.7% voting for him to stay and 10.9% unsure.
So it is not cut and dried among the fan base and I have to admit that I, personally, am in favour of him remaining part of the squad.
While it may go against the majority view, Boufal gives me the belief he can create something extraordinary from nothing whether he is starter or substitute and playing well or poorly overall.
I have developed an affinity for his silky style of play and, despite his inconsistency, I get a buzz when he is on the ball or coming off the bench.
I like the suspense he provides, not knowing if he will nutmeg a defender and curl one in the top corner or take on six players and slot in a winner.
Players who give you that feeling are few and far between in my opinion.
While I appreciate the argument about his position as a higher earner, i would much prefer to see Wesley Hoedt, Mario Lemina and Guido Carillo make permanent moves away from St Mary’s and off the wage bill before we say so long to Sofiane.
I would be disappointed to lose arguably the most skilful player in the current squad and an international for £3.5 million.
While, as my headline suggests, it has been a case of so near yet so-fiane for Sofiane when it comes to realising his potential, I hold out much hope he can deliver some more special memories before he departs.
Even if he were to remain just an impact substitute, I really struggle to see what better quality we could have in reserve than someone of Boufal’s calibre.
I hope to see him remain at the club and look forward to at least a few more spectacular contributions.
Photo: Action Images
Please report offensive, libellous or inappropriate posts by using the links provided.
You need to login in order to post your comments
Blogs 31 bloggers
When Monday Comes #37 by wessex_exile
When Saturday Comes and we reach the end of a topsy-turvy season, much of which hasn’t been that much fun if I’m honest, though latterly considerably improved under Wayne Brown. If I can, I always like to do the first and last game of the season, but sadly a trip to Hartlepool just wasn’t on the cards, not if I actually wanted to get home again tonight, so I had to console myself with a pretty enjoyable trip to the JobServe last weekend – not quite the victory the U’s deserved over Walsall, but a great day out anyway. I know it’ll be too late for the Player of the Year awards, but wouldn’t it be nice to see a Freddie Sears hat-trick this afternoon to round off the season.
When Saturday Comes #36 by wessex_exile
When Saturday Comes tomorrow, and I will be on a train heading over to God’s own county for my last U’s game of the season. That should have been last Friday’s trip to the Principality, but as posted elsewhere I was more than happy to be pre-booked to dog-sit Emma’s collie Reggie that night and had to be content with one of Nadine’s ‘downstreams’ on iFollow. Given both the performance and the result, whilst I was sorry to miss it in person, I was more than happy with how Friday night turned out in the end. Tomorrow will be a gathering of the clans for us, with at the last count at least 8, possibly more, of the family gathering for the match. Ironically, I’ll see them all again on Bank Holiday Monday for a family birthday, but I’ll be driving over for that one.
When Saturday Comes #35 by wessex_exile
When Saturday Comes and the U’s have already given us a fantastic start to the weekend, with a stirring and well-deserved 2-1 victory at promotion-chasing Newport County. Yes, the Exiles had lost the previous three at home and are looking like they are going to bottle their chance for the play-offs, and yes with the U’s now safe technically we had little to play for, but don’t take anything away from this performance. If Wayne Brown is still being ‘interviewed’ for the full-time role as Colchester United manager, then last night was the equivalent of having an excellent incisive question of your own lined up for the interview panel.
When Saturday Comes #34 by wessex_exile
When Saturday Comes and our Easter Bank Holiday programme is already underway, following a dismal 2-0 defeat at St James’ Park yesterday. It’s not so much the result that galls, in truth deep down I suspect we all thought it was going to be a difficult trip to get anything out of, it was the manner of that defeat. To say the U’s were lacklustre is a massive understatement – and it wasn’t as if it was down to Exeter City simply outplaying us, I didn’t think they were all that to be honest. I can cope with defeat, heaven knows the U’s have given me enough practice in recent years, but to go down without a whimper, relying on Man of the Match Sham to keep it from becoming a cricket score against an average Exeter City, was just dreadful.
When Saturday Comes #33 by wessex_exile
When Saturday Comes and there was a time, not too long ago, when today’s game against the charmless Steve Evans and Stevenage was looking like it might be a relegation 6-pointer. Whilst we’re not out of the woods quite yet, back-to-back victories over Tranmere Rovers and Harrogate mean we go into this game knowing even if we were to slip up against Stevenage, we’ll still be 8pts plus goal difference ahead of them, and only five games left to play. Still, let’s not dwell on negatives, because three wins on the bounce will be the confidence-booster we’ll need ahead of the tough trip on Good Friday to St James’ Park.
[ Vote here ]