Opinion: Can Sofiane Boufal be the saviour Southampton need?

The Moroccan has been heaped with praise since netting a wonderful solo goal at the weekend.

Opinion: Can Sofiane Boufal be the saviour Southampton need?
(Photo by Steve Bardens/Getty Images)

Southampton have rightfully become notorious for their allusive academy development and producing some top-notch players in recent years, who have gone on to grace the Premier League and Europe at domestic level, as well as ply their trades for the national team. 

The likes of Gareth Bale, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Adam Lallana, Calum Chambers and Theo Walcott are just a handful of successful graduates of the renown set-up on the south coast, with many more currently making their mark on the club's first-team. 

Mauricio Pellegrino has continued to implement home grown pedigree into his squad; James Ward Prowse has played a major role in midfield as young defenders Matt Targett and Sam McQueen also aim to push for a spot in the senior side. 

However, it isn't at all a talent from their academy who managed to salvage them a much-needed victory last weekend and could go on to become the saviour that Southampton desperately need in a time of mediocracy and murmurs of cracks behind the scenes. 

Sofiane Boufal managed to bag himself one of the goals of the season with his fine solo effort in the home encounter against West Bromwich Albion, where he was able to dribble past a number of opponents and find the bottom corner just ten minutes from time. 

​Is Boufal worthy of a starting place for the Saints?

Sofiane Boufal's goal on Saturday meant Southampton found themselves in the top-half of the Premier League table and four points away from a Champions League spot, albeit with just eight games played. 

The 24 year-old was an 81st minute substitute to replace an underperforming Dušan Tadić - a risk Pellegrino was willing to gamble on - and a punt which wholeheartedly paid off just moments later when the attacker lifted the fans into jubilation. 

Having struggled in his first term in the top-flight after arriving at St. Mary's in the summer of 2016 from Lille, Boufal may have finally discovered the time to light up the Premier League with his sublime attacking threat and make the Saints a serious contender for European football come May. 

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Saturday stardom 

Saturday's display from Sofiane Boufal has proven the impact he can have on Southampton and he may be the player whose gone under the radar for many, and been the creative workhorse that Mauricio Pellegrino has drastically needed to call upon during their early season struggles. 

The team face a short trip along the south coast to Brighton & Hove Albion in the upcoming weekend of fixtures, as well as outings against Burnley, Liverpool, Everton and Manchester City in the month of November - so the next four league matches could be make or break for Boufal, if he gets a place in the starting eleven. 

Can Saints kick-on from West Brom triumph?

Admittedly, Pellegrino's men had an appalling game of football against Tony Pulis' physical Baggies and it wasn't until the late goal were supporters mounting an abundance of pressure on the scrutinised manager of late. 

Southampton players were consistently making errors at both ends of the pitch and if the score line was goalless or a defeat at full-time then that could have ended the boss' time at St. Mary's, however, the win gives the first-team a great confidence boost and the opportunity to rise up the table even more. 

Whilst Brighton may have only just earned promotion to the top-flight, they've eagerly impressed in the opening two months of the campaign so the journey to the Amex Stadium on Sunday is by far no easy task for Mauricio Pellegrino's team. 

Saying that, on the back of the three points accumulated over West Bromwich Albion it has breathed in an era of positivity into St. Mary's and a small run of convincing results could lead the Saints into the top-six, and really make an effort for European football.