Sofiane Boufal looks to the new season
For Sofiane Boufal, the start of the 2017/18 Premier League season can’t come quickly enough.
It is close to a year now since the playmaker signed for Southampton from French club Lille, although it is only now that he feels he is finally in a position to show the true level of his ability.
Boufal arrived at Saints towards the end of his recovery from a serious knee injury, and wasn’t able to make his debut until October.
sofiane boufali am so, so excited! i want to start the premier league tomorrow.
He showed flashes of his brilliance – notably his sensational goals in the EFL Cup against Sunderland and in the Premier League against Middlesbrough – but admits himself that he was nowhere near his top level.
But with a full pre-season this summer, Boufal hopes this will be the campaign in which he really shines for Saints.
"This year I am so, so excited,” he said. “I want to start the Premier League tomorrow!
“The last year I was not at the maximum of my capacity, and I want Saints fans to see who is Sofiane Boufal. I hope this season the fans of my club will be happy with me.
"Last year I couldn't do the preparation, and I see the difference. It's crucial for a football player your preparation, because you run a lot and you prepare your body, and in England you don't have a break, so you need to be ready all the year. For that reason, pre-season is very, very important.
"I work to have a very good season. I worked very hard during my summer holidays and now I feel good and I feel fit, and I am so happy to be a player of Southampton, and I hope this season is very good for me and for the club.”
Boufal is certainly capable of some outrageous pieces of skill, and, while it is a part of his game he thrives on, he is conscious of improving in other areas.
"This is my style,” he said. “It's for that reason I play in Southampton, because the director and everyone here like my style.
sofiane boufalit's like family here. i feel really a southampton player.
“For me, I train like I play on the Saturday, because if you don't train hard then you don't play good on the Saturday. I need to work hard and progress a lot of things.
"Really I never worked on this ability. I think it is natural. When I was small and a kid in France, in my city, I played a lot of mini games – futsal. Five against five, three against three, in short spaces, and every day I worked and played with my friends and maybe these games helped me to progress for this ability.
“But I think I need to progress a lot of things. I have this ability, and this one is ok, but I need to work on improving the other elements of my game. I need to score more goals, I need to progress in finishing my actions.
“I am working hard and I hope I will progress all of these things this year.”
Whatever the new season does bring, it certainly appears that Boufal is in a good place heading into the campaign.
"All the people here are very good guys,” he said. “It's like family here and I feel very good in this atmosphere. Now I feel really a Southampton football player.”