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Why Saints Should Cut Their Losses And Sell Sofiane Boufal
Friday, 2nd Aug 2019 10:19

A few weeks ago the news that an agreement has apparently been reached with OGC Nice to buy Sofiane Boufal would have been welcomed by Saints fans, but suddenly many are saying he should stay, but are they right or wrong ?

According to news reports Sofiane Boufal has reached a ‘contractual agreement’ to join OGC Nice, that would have been good news, but a goal against Feyenoord for the player has suddenly lead to Saints fans on social media suggesting that he should stay.

This site has always liked Boufal, we have always found him to be an honest player who has worked hard despite finding himself playing in sides under Claude Puel, Mauricio Pellegrino and Mark Hughes that did not suit his playing style.

Now some are suggesting that he could flourish under Ralph Hasenhuttl after his goal against Feyenoord but is this truly enough evidence to even consider keeping him ?

Boufal has now been at the club for three years, one of which he spent on loan at Celta Vigo, by all accounts he had a solid season with 25 starts and 10 appearances as sub for the Spanish club in La Liga, but with only 3 goals it does not suggest that is was spectacular and Celta Vigo have not been desperate to sign him even though he also had 4 assists to his name.

In his two seasons in the Saints first team squad he started only 23 Premier League games plus another 27 as sub and scored only 3 times with 2 assists credited to him.

Whilst there is no doubt that in that spell he was playing in a team not suited to his style, is there any reason to believe that Ralph Hasenhuttl's will suit him any better ?

Boufal is a player who does his work when he has the ball, whereas Ralph demands more than that from his players, he wants a pressing game and players that will work hard, is that Boufal's game, evidence would suggest not.

The reality is that he is suited to the European style of play where the emphasis is on passing and keeping the ball, rather than the pace of the Premier League, hence it was easier for him to play well against Feyenoord and indeed score a goal.

But 45 minutes in pre season and a goal is not enough evidence to suggest that suddenly he might be a World beater, sometimes you have to cut your losses and that might be one of those times, he is a luxury player and whilst the Big Six clubs can afford luxury players in the main the other 14 clubs can't.

If he stayed it would not be a disaster, but what would he offer, would it be much more than a place on the bench and the 1 1/2 goals per season so far, I would suggest not.

Perhaps if we had a small squad then we could take the punt, but we need to trim the squad and we have a plethora of players who can play in his position, would he start before Nathan Redmond or Moussa Djenepo, or for that matter Josh Sims and then we have the question of of whether Mo Elyounoussi could come good.

Some say than none of them have the flair and trickery of Boufal, but flair and trickery is no good without end product and that is the problem there has been little end product, he has the talent, but he is yet to apply it.

As I said I like Boufal, apart from his fallout with Mark Hughes there has never been a problem with his attitude, but sadly 45 minutes against Feyenoord, which to be honest was not particularly notable apart from the goal, is not enough evidence to consider keeping him if we can get a good offer and put money in the bank and trim wages off the bill.

So there is are just too many reasons not to keep him and to be blunt not many at all to persevere and give him a chance, when you add it all up yes if he stayed he might offer the odd bit of flair and brilliance but that is not enough and circumstances dictate that we need to cut our losses and get something back on him, as in another year's time he will have little worth as he enters the last year of his contract.

Taking all things into account Sofiane Boufal has to go, but he should go with the best wishes of Saints fans ringing in his ears, perhaps we will make a big loss on him in terms of transfer fee, but it could also be said that some of that was repaid due to his three League goals, his winner in the 1-0 win against Middlesbrough at St Mary's in his first season gave us an extra two points that in the final table leapfrogged us three positions so was worth around £6 million.

In his second season his goal against West Brom gave us a big advantage come the end of the season and without it the final day would have been a lot more nerve wracking, so although not on paper meaning anything in hindsight, in reality was probably worth his transfer fee alone.

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highfield49 added 10:38 - Aug 2
Agreed Nick, he's a luxury we can't afford. Put a sell on clause in the contract and wave goodbye.

saintmark1976 added 10:53 - Aug 2
The age old football problem Nick. Boufal would be a big asset in a good team with top quality players around him. Regretfully his time with us has coincided with exactly the opposite because for reasons we can argue about to the end of time,all our best players have been sold.

Should we let him go? Yes, but in my opinion for all the wrong reasons. After all you don't score goals like he did against W B A if you can't play a bit do you?

DPeps added 11:14 - Aug 2
I remember seeing a stat towards the end of his first season with us that showed that Boufal had covered more distance with the ball than any other saints player that season. I remember being quite surprised because he hadn't actually played that much!

For this reason I think Boufal is worth keeping. He does things that our other players can't/won't do, like dribbling forwards. Yes he's annoying but I think if there's any chance that Ralph can whip him into shape then keep

ElSanto added 11:22 - Aug 2
Yeah, I'm curious to see what he could do under our manager, but it's just not worth the risk. It feels like trying to win the lottery.

Colburn added 11:56 - Aug 2
Only person to beat Messi in one stat from last season in LA liga.. Keep him til Jan and see what happens. No point in taking 8m for him now, may as well wait. As you say he only fell out with Hughes who was a nightmare to get along with by many accounts. I would keep him for now. Ralph has transformed many already, why not Boufal? Best goal ever in Prem in a saints shirt suggests its worth not giving up on him just yet.

montecristo added 12:20 - Aug 2
Am I so glad that its not the average english football supporter weaned on kick and rush who is taking decisions as to who stays or goes at Saints. The last player to have Boufals type of flair was Le Tiss and you want to get rid of him ...

bstokesaint added 12:27 - Aug 2
Complete luxury, and far from convinced he’s a team player. Remember watching him when he was a sub doing the pre warm with the rest of the team and everything was so half hearted. I don’t think there’s any question of his talent, but that’s no good if he thinks he’s bigger than the team. Shame.

So... where are these defensive signings? Can we start panicking yet?

AndrewB added 12:27 - Aug 2
My main take away regarding Boufal in the Feyenoord match were how fit and hard working he was. He covered a lot of ground, did a lot of tracking back and took up good defensive positions to help the team defensively. He was also smiling and enjoying his football which perhaps has not been easy under the three previous managers. Perhaps he deserves a chance to show what he can do if he is willing to give Saints another chance under RH.

ExiledSupporter added 13:01 - Aug 2
Boufal is the best player with the ball at his feet that we have had in many years.

Some of the most talented players are rarely the most industrious on the field, but they are well capable of turning a game with a moment of brilliance. I don't recall MLT pressing hard in midfield, are you saying that were LeTiss playing now when at his best that he would not have got into the first team squad under Ralf due to the demands of the modern game. I don't recall Messi, or for that matter Ronaldo, standing out for their work rate off the ball when Barca/Real/Juventus are not in possession

Okay Boufal is obviously not in their class, but in time with good coaching and management we might transform the lad from raw talent to much better focused skills and get a great deal more for him. From what I have seen of Elyanoussi who seems particularly lacklustre and even Sims who seems unconvincing for quite long periods I think having to keep Boufal for lack of any other interest might be quite a wild card that could well in the medium term be a great option. Of course, I know nothing about Djenepo to make any knowledgeable comparison with.

On the other hand, as a general statement, it seems to me that fast and tricky wingers who consistently provide a significant threat to opposition defences are few and far between. I remember as a kid the disappointment that Tommy Jenkins proved to be many years ago, partly because of his wayward on field contributions and partly I think because he didn't seem to fit the team structure that Bates subsequently evolved (tho I do remember him scoring a fantastic goal against West Ham, not unlike Boufal's vs WBA)

I think we should keep him and invest some concerted effort in augmenting his current skill set ...and provide the fans with the occasional, perhaps increasingly frequent, opportunity to see some sparkling goal/assists

BoondockSaint added 13:23 - Aug 2
As Nick points out, he didn't do much at Celta Vigo (who just escaped relegation), so it would appear he has not improved in the last year.

Yes, he can dribble, and yes he covers ground, but his problem was he would never pass the ball, thereby losing possession time and again.

I always felt his plan (like Lemina's) was": Get on the Saints, dazzle the league with my amazing skills, and the Scouse (or some other Big Six team) will swoop in for me at the next transfer window. He attitude was that Saints and his team mates were beneath him.

If my foggy memory serves me right, wasn't there an incident where other Saints players had to step in when he was trying to bully JWP into letting him take a penalty instead?

If we can't off-load him, let's hope Ralph can make him more of a team player (which I think is the only type of player Ralph wants).

helpineedsomebody added 13:31 - Aug 2
you never ever sell a goal scorer nor would i sell charlie

as charlie said once put the ball in the box i will find it

both of them are not marathon runners PLAY TO THEIR STRENGTHS

halftimeorange added 13:46 - Aug 2
We've been prepared to persevere with Nathan Redmond, so why not Sofiane Boufal? Is he any more frustrating than Nathan, does Nathan tackle back, does Nathan often pick the wrong option, does he blame his teammates? No, no, yes and yes. Now, however, Nathan is seen as a game changer. Give him a chance.

SaintBrock added 14:32 - Aug 2
Don't be daft Nick. Who the hell would we get for that sort of money who'd be any near as good as him. Besides which he's unfinished business for many of us and THAT goal against WBA gave me one of the most exciting and up lifting moments in my long spectating career.

SaintBrock added 14:32 - Aug 2
Please get rid of those effing ads!

arthurfane added 14:36 - Aug 2
Afraid your foggy memory doesn't serve you correctly Boondock - that was Mane that tried to steal the ball from JWP for the penalty (vs. Hull).

You only need to look at the comments on the photo of Boufal shaking hands with Ralph (signalling his return) from Saints players to show that he's a popular player in the Saints camp, and certainly doesn't look down on any of his teammates or the club in general.

I don't think Saints fans are overreacting in simply seeing a goal vs Feyenoord and calling for Sofiane to stay - there's more to this; a player returning with a revitalised thirst to achieve, under a manager who's time and time again got the best out of players in his charge. This is a player with a unique and massive skillset - he should definitely stay, not because he scored a goal against Feyenoord, but because he's the most naturally gifted player Saints have and will be an absolute menace for our opposition should Ralph be able to unlock that enormous potential we all know he has.

vanmans added 17:20 - Aug 2
I would like Saints keep Sofiane Boufal he looked a lot better when he came on against Feyenoord. Looks like we may have to get a loan to buy a centre half because no one wants to buy are crap.

BoondockSaint added 17:39 - Aug 2
Hi arthurfane-

That would have had to have been in the 2014/2015 season as that was the only season Hull was in the Premier League while Mane was on the Saints.

The incident I referred to was the West Brom game on 4 Feb 2018. Here is my post (it is on the second page of comments):


So, I am happy to announce that my memory, (at least on this occasion) has served me well! And I can prove it!..... Because The Ugly Inside archives are here so that "All those... moments.... will NOT be lost in time like tears in the rain"


bstokesaint added 18:01 - Aug 2
Boondock, I remember the incident you were referring to. It was a bit embarrassing, especially as JWP seems to be the only one who can find the net regularly from a penalty.

1teeminants added 19:30 - Aug 2
Completely disagree with this article. Our midfield is solid but unspectacular. Players like Boufal are flair players that excite the crowd a bit like Redmond now. Ralph has got Redmond and JWP playing much better so why not give Boufal a chance to improve. That goal against West Brom was absolutely brilliant and no other saints player has the ability to do that.

I say let Ralph decide and let him work with Boufal and see what happens. I’m not saying it will work but it’s surely worth a try.

kristianJ added 08:09 - Aug 3
I broadly agree with the article. I actually think Boufal has a decent work rate, esp. for a fair player. His main flaw is his decision making both with and without the ball. Without the ball he gives away needless fouls. With the ball he rarely passes it and usually just gives it away most of the time. As the article fairly points out he has no end product. So whilst occasionally (like twice a season) he might produce a ”worldy”, it’s nowhere near frequent enough to justify keeping him, esp.when we have better and more team focussed attacking players than him.Finally MLT was a million times better than Boufal - he had end product as his goals/assists show.

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