- Since arriving at Lille from newly promoted Angers OSC last year, Moroccan Sofiane Boufal has lit up the French Ligue 1 with his performances that has got the big guns of Europe raving about the attacking midfielder.
- FC Barcelona, Arsenal and Chelsea are reportedly linked with a move for Boufal after Lille slapped a £20 million price-tag on him.
- Liverpool and Tottenham who were earlier interested in the youngster’s signing have reportedly backed away due to his asking price.
The French top division has bred many a prodigious talent over the years and more so in recent times, when we have witnessed clubs from all of Europe’s big leagues taking the plunge in Ligue 1 and scooping up some top-notch players to bolster their squad. Sofiane Boufal is the latest name on the lips of the giants of European football, with the Moroccan coming off the back of a break-through debut season with Lille, where he led them to a fifth-placed finish that guaranteed European football for the 2016-17 campaign.
Boufal played 35 games for Les Douges last season and boasted a creditable tally of 12 goals and 4 assists in an impressive campaign for his side, who missed out on Champions League football by 5 points. Born in Paris, Boufal had the choice of featuring for both France and Morocco of which the latter chose to hand the 22-year-old his international debut.
Boufal’s agent Yvan Le Mee has confirmed that there is strong interest coming from a number of quarters for his client and even let slip a few clubs whose representatives he is currently holding negotiations with. Yvan told Le 10 Sport,”We did have a meeting with the leadership of FC Barcelona in the last few weeks. There is interest.”
“Now the reflection is whether Sofiane Boufal will go to Barcelona to compete with MSN [Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar] or should he go to a club where is going to start matches and express his exceptional talent.”
“We have also initiated discussions with three other clubs that interest us, but they either have or will change their coach or the coach is in charge of the national team at the Euros. In England, there is interest, but the English market is just beginning. A transfer of €20million and €25m euros is not resolved in two weeks of course.”
Both Boufal and his agent are keen on securing a move to the big club this summer and hence it is only a matter of time before Lille give in to the demands of the big sides that come gunning for their man.
Which club should Boufal choose at this stage in his career?
It has to be remembered that Boufal is only 22 years of age and is still nowhere near the finished product he is expected or projected to become. Having said that, a move to Barcelona at this point of time seems premature and may not be the right option going forward for the Moroccan. Evidenced by recent unsuccessful stints suffered by players of the calibre of Alexis Sanchez and Arda Turan, Boufal must realize his growth is subject to more first team action and not just a big-money move to a club of the Blaugrana’s stature.
With attacking midfielders on demand at a club like Chelsea and a manager of Antonio Conte’s level of intellect in-charge of affairs, London may be the place to be for Boufal. Oscar looks like he could leave the Blues this summer and with the Italian head-coach himself interested in holding talks with Boufal after the Euros, Chelsea’s intent on signing the player is pretty clear.
Even Arsenal are reportedly in the reckoning to sign him after doubts have been cast over Mesut Ozil’s long-term future at the club and the injury problems they are faced with players like Jack Wilshere and Santi Cazorla. That said, he has a good scope for growth under Arsene Wenger who prides himself on grooming young talent at the club. Many an eminent football personalities have come up through the ranks under Arsene Wenger and there is no reason to suggest the Frenchman could effect the same on a talented attacking midfielder like Boufal.