French-born attacker Sofiane Boufal was linked with a move to Newcastle United by L'Equipe, as reported by Sport.fr, in the January transfer window, but despite starring for Ligue 2 side Angers, the deal never materialised and Ligue 1 side Lille pounced to tie him to a four-and-a-half year deal.
It took the France-Algerian a few weeks to settle in the north of France, but now he has found his feet in the red of Les Dogues, he looks like being the player that can rescue Lille’s season and perhaps one that got away from John Carver’s side.
Last weekend in a tough away fixture at Evian, it was Boufal that stepped up in the absence of Manchester City loanee Rony Lopes and a poor performance from Liverpool’s Divock Origi. The 21-year-old won a second half penalty, and then dispatched it to seal the 1-0 win.
Back at the Stade Pierre Mauroy, Boufal was the hero for Lille again this weekend. In a must-win game against Bordeaux, Boufal finished the game with two assists and put in a stellar performance as the home side won 2-0 – lifting them back towards the Europa League places.
If Paris Saint-Germain win the Coupe de France against Auxerre, the sixth place in the league will be given a spot in the Europa League. Lille are currently eighth, but only four points behind Bordeaux in sixth.
With games against PSG and rivals Lens to come, it will not be easy, but on the back of performances from Boufal, it could be an exciting end to the season for the northern club. Shame Newcastle fans can’t say the same about their season.