Southampton have announced the long-anticipated signing of Sofiane Boufal from Ligue Un club LOSC Lille for a club-record fee reported to reach £21m.
The Moroccan has penned a contract at St Mary’s for five years, and the initial £17m pricetag eclipses the £12.5m paid for flop Dani Osvaldo in 2013.
Boufal, who is recovering from a meniscus operation and is expected to return in a month’s time, is seen as the direct replacement for the departed Sadio Mané, and gives Claude Puel another pacy option in attack.
The skilful forward scored 12 goals in 34 appearances for Les Dogues last season, and can play on either flank but is likely to play at the tip of the diamond favoured by Puel.
Saints’ Director of Football Les Reed told the club’s official website, “I’m absolutely delighted to welcome Sofiane to Southampton Football Club.
“He has shown his undoubted qualities in France over the past few seasons, and we are extremely confident he will successfully adapt to life in the Premier League.
“Sofiane is a player we have watched develop closely over the last few years, and we’re thrilled to have him join the club ahead of what promises to be a very exciting season, with Europa League football on the horizon.”
Boufal was linked with a lot of clubs this summer, but chose the Saints because of the facilities on offer and felt it was the best place to continue his development.
He explained, “I’m very, very happy to sign for Southampton and I am really excited to play in St Mary’s Stadium in front of the fans.
“Southampton showed big interest in signing me, and I can see that this club is the best place for me to continue my progression as a footballer. It is a very good club, with excellent facilities, and I feel it is the perfect environment to continue my development.”
Boufal becomes the Saints’ sixth signing of the summer, and Lille are rumoured to have a 15% sell on clause if the Moroccan were to leave Southampton for a profit.