According to the Guardian Chelsea and Arsenal are set to battle it out for the signature of Sofiane Boufal from Lille but will face stiff competition from Spanish sides Barcelona and Atlético Madrid for the Moroccan forward.
French club Lille have already indicated that their forward may leave the club this summer. Boufal joined Lille from Angers last January for just €4million and Lille are expecting to sell him for around €25m (£19.6m) bagging themselves a healthy profit.
Many English clubs have been monitoring Boufal’s progress including Arsenal and Chelsea. The 22-year-old scored 11 goals in his first top-flight season, Boufal went on to win an award for Best African Player in Ligue 1.
French-born forward Boufal opted to play for Morocco and has represented them twice scoring 0 goals.
Tottenham and Liverpool have expressed previous interest in Lille’s star player but only Arsenal and Chelsea have indicated that they would be willing to meet the target price mentioned by the French club.
A worry for English clubs, Barcelona have set their sights on Boufal and his agent confirmed they have already held talks with the Spanish giants.
“We did have a meeting with the leadership of FC Barcelona in the last few weeks. There is an interest,” Yvan Le Mée told Le10 sport. “Now the reflection is whether Sofiane Boufal will go to Barcelona to compete with MSN (Lionel Messi, Luis Suárez and Neymar) or should he go to a club where he is going to start matches and express his exceptional talent.
The plus side to this is Arsenal are Chelsea will be more willing to give Boufal first team minutes with the forward line of Barcelona almost impossible to break through with MSN reaching their peak.
Boufal looks destined to reach his potential after a very impressive season last year. The 22-year-old’s strengths certainly stand out with his dribbling capabilities being his main strength, his ability to pick the ball up and glide with it is similar to Leicester Citys’s Riyad Mahrez. The versatile forward can play anywhere along the front line and also as a central attacking midfielder, something that will appeal to interested parties as he can give them good strength and rotation. Boufal managed to create 2.67 chances per 90 minutes last season which is fantastic for a forward player, the forward also impresses just as much with key passes, another strength of Boufal, managing 2.51 which once again identifies his qualities. A stand out weakness of Boufal is his discipline, but this is something that will improve with age.
Several clubs are monitoring his situation. Arsenal have scouted Boufal extensively since January ahead of a potential summer move, with PSG also interested in Boufal.
All teams mentioned would be a huge upgrade for Boufal and help him take a bigger step in his early career, he looks destined to leave Lille this summer and only time will tell where he ends up.