Why Mohamed Elyounoussi deserves a second chance at Southampton
The 26-year-old was initially shipped out on loan to Celtic in 2019 after struggling to make a positive impression in the Premier League following his £16million move to St. Mary’s from Swiss giants FC Basel.
Celtic re-signed Elyounoussi on a second successive loan deal earlier this summer, with manager Neil Lennon opting to bring the Norwegian winger back following a productive campaign at Parkhead last term.
However, as per the report, Southampton were forced into making a hasty decision on Elyounoussi’s future amidst the pressure of dealing with Project Restart. Manager Ralph Hasenhuttl is keen to offer the Norwegian another chance to prove his worth in the PL next season.
A youth product of Sarpsborg 08, Mohamed Elyounoussi bagged 18 goals in 70 appearances for his first professional club and followed it up with an impressive tally of 42 goals in 92 appearances for Molde in Norway.
The winger’s meteoric rise in his homeland paved the way for a switch to FC Basel, where he racked up 23 goals and 30 assists in 84 appearances across all competitions, while also catching the eye in the group stages of the Champions League.
Southampton came calling for his services in 2018 but Elyounnoussi failed to deliver on his potential in the Premier League, drawing a complete blank in terms of goals and assists in 19 appearances across all competitions.
The Norwegian has rebuilt his reputation while on loan at Celtic over the past 12 months, establishing himself as a key player under Neil Lennon at Parkhead. Elyounoussi has amassed 11 goals and 9 assists in just 32 outings for the Hoops so far.
Elyounoussi deserves another crack of the whip
It’s never easy for players coming from some of the lesser fancied leagues in Europe to make an immediate impact in the highly-competitive atmosphere of the Premier League, no matter how good they are. And it wasn’t a massive surprise when Mohamed Elyounoussi struggled to get to grips with the English game following his move to Southampton from Basel.
However, the Saints have every reason to hope that Elyounoussi would be better equipped to make a transition to the Premier League in the upcoming campaign after enjoying a productive time on loan at Celtic.
The Norwegian still has three years left to run on the five-year deal that he signed at St. Mary’s back in 2018, so it might be too early for them to think about cutting their losses on the winger. Elyounoussi has shown a lot of progress at Parkhead and the Saints could well have a quality player on their hands if he manages to replicate that kind of form south of the border.
To that end, it would make perfect sense for Southampton to offer him a second chance to prove his worth in the PL rather than letting him go out on another loan spell, which would reduce his value at the club.
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Ralph Hasenhuttl showed last season that he’s more than prepared to give players a second bite of the cherry, with Sofiane Boufal enjoying considerable game time after returning from his loan spell at Celta Vigo. That the Moroccan failed to grab his opportunity is a different question altogether but there is every chance that things could work out favourably for Mohamed Elyounoussi.
Southampton do not have a whole lot of depth on the flanks and Boufal’s departure has certainly created enough room for the Norwegian to be integrated back into the setup next summer.