Arsenal are heading into the second half of a campaign which is their best shot at a Premier League title in years, but to lift that trophy in May, Arsene Wenger is taking no chances.
The Gunners boss is already closing in on signing Basel’s Mohamed Elneny, but the Frenchman is also coming up fast on the outside for Lille’s highly-rated frontman Sofiane Boufal.
The 22-year-old has long been linked with Liverpool, while Manchester United are also in the mix, but over the festive period it’s Arsenal who seem to be best placed to sign the Frenchman, whose talent is reminding the Lille faithful of a certain Chelsea forward.
Boufal is Lille’s top scorer in Ligue 1 this term with five goals, no mean achievement for a team languishing in eleventh place which has netted a paltry 15 times.
He only signed for Les Dogues from Angiers last summer, but already it seems the time could be right for the Paris-born midfielder to follow in former Lille star Eden Hazard’s steps and hop over to the Premier League.
Six yellow cards and a straight red this season suggests Wenger may have some work to do cooling Boufal’s temperament, but he has unquestionably been a rare shining light in an average Lille side this term.
The French club are unwilling to part with Boufal for less than £18m however, but given his age, Wenger may feel that’s a reasonable fee for such a talented player.
Boufal has really impressed this term, producing dazzling ball-control and skill with both feet, in addition to intelligent link-up play.
Arsenal remain favourites for the Premier League, and coupled with Liverpool and Manchester United’s recent struggles, they seem the most likely destination for the Lille-man.
Lille have a history of off-loading wingers to the Premier League, and took home a cool £32m when Eden Hazard joined Chelsea in 2012.
Boufal’s displays down the wing have been eerily similar to Hazard’s at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy, and the early indications are he can go on to be every bit as good as the Chelsea man.
Arsenal fans will be hoping Boufal’s best days come in the red half of north London.
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