Southamp­ton sign Bo­ufal for club record fee

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Sport Starts Here -

PRE­MIER League club Southamp­ton smashed their trans­fer record yes­ter­day to swoop for Lille’s Morocco in­ter­na­tional mid­fielder Sofi­ane Bo­ufal.

Bo­ufal (22) agreed a five-year con­tract with the Saints and is re­ported to have cost £16 mil­lion ($20 mil­lion/ 18 mil­lion eu­ros).

Southamp­ton’s pre­vi­ous record sign­ing was Dani Os­valdo, who cost £15 mil­lion from Roma in 2013.

“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,” Bo­ufal told Southamp­ton’s web­site.

“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.

“I hope I can achieve many great things with Southamp­ton. It is a very good club, with ex­cel­lent fa­cil­i­ties, and I feel it is the per­fect en­vi­ron­ment to con­tinue my devel­op­ment.”

Lille said ear­lier that only the med­i­cal visit could hold up the trans­fer.

Bo­ufal un­der­went surgery in Qatar in May on his right knee car­ti­lage. He will not be avail­able to play un­til at least the end of Septem­ber.

Lille’s deputy gen­eral man­ager JeanMichel Van­damme said: “We have been very trans­par­ent.

“They know ev­ery­thing and if they hire him it is on that ba­sis,” the Lille of­fi­cial added.

Bo­ufal be­came one of the most high­lyrated young­sters in France af­ter mov­ing from Angers in Jan­uary 2015.

He at­tracted Southamp­ton’s in­ter­est af­ter scor­ing 12 goals in all com­pe­ti­tions last sea­son to help Lille fin­ish fifth in Ligue 1 and qual­ify for the Europa League, while also reach­ing the Coupe de la Ligue fi­nal.

“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,” Southamp­ton’s ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of foot­ball Les Reed said.

“His ex­cel­lent cam­paign with Lille last sea­son meant a num­ber of clubs were pur­su­ing him to se­cure his ser­vices, but we’re de­lighted that Sofi­ane sees Southamp­ton as the best place for him to con­tinue his devel­op­ment.

Claude Puel, who took over as Saints man­ager dur­ing the close-sea­son, had plenty of chances to watch Bo­ufal up close af­ter spend­ing the last four years as boss of Ligue 1 side Nice.

Bo­ufal is Southamp­ton’s lat­est ex­pen­sive recruit. They spent £10 mil­lion to sign Nathan Red­mond from Nor­wich and £12 mil­lion on Bay­ern Mu­nich’s Pierre-Emile Ho­jb­jerg.

Puel had been look­ing to add more fire­power to his squad af­ter Saints sold last sea­son’s top scor­ers Sa­dio Mane and Graziano Pelle.

Mean­while, Mid­dles­brough are close to agree­ing a sea­son-long loan for Arse­nal de­fender Calum Cham­bers.

West Ham, Hull, Wat­ford and Roma have also made en­quiries for the 21-year-old England in­ter­na­tional.

Al­though Arse­nal are short at the back, Cham­bers ap­pears to have fallen out of favour at the club.

Arsene Wenger has opted to start new sign­ing Rob Hold­ing along­side Lau­rent Ko­scielny in Arse­nal’s matches against Le­ices­ter City and Wat­ford.

With the an­nounce­ment of Shko­dran Mustafi to Arse­nal im­mi­nent, Cham­bers will have an­other cen­tre-back ahead of him in the peck­ing or­der.

Wenger has de­cided that Cham­bers needs reg­u­lar game time to aid his devel­op­ment this cam­paign.

How­ever, the Arse­nal boss is not will­ing to let Cham­bers leave on a per­ma­nent deal.

— AFP

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