SOFIANE Boufal’s future at Saints is far from clear but there is scope for Mark Hughes to hand the one-time club record signing another chance to prove himself.

Boufal was bought for £16m from Lille in 2016 and has shown only glimpses of the ability which made Saints part company with a then-record fee.

The Moroccan ended the season virtually in exile after an alleged bust-up with Hughes after the attacking midfielder had refused to warm-up in the 3-2 defeat to Chelsea.

Boufal was banished to train with the under-23s while Saints won their battle for survival in the Premier League.

To add insult to injury, the 24-year-old was subsequently overlooked for a place in Morocco’s World Cup squad ahead of the tournament in Russia this month.

The former Lille man came out soon after the season ended, admitting he may now look for a move back to France, where he had some success in four years at Angers and then Les Dogues.

But, knowing Boufal has the potential to be fantastic, Saints might not be so willing to give up on a player they put so much hope in when he arrived during Claude Puel’s reign.

It’s just that at no time has the Moroccan’s supposed talent been really directed into anything meaningful by the incumbent in the St Mary’s dugout. He has scored thrice in 50 Premier League appearances.

Certainly, it will be hard for Hughes, considering their previous, to knock into shape a mercurial talent, who Saints are said to have regular enquiries about.

And, undoubtedly, it will be down to a change of attitude by Boufal, whose apparent insubordination came at a time when the club really needed fighters to get them out of trouble, not players throwing their toys out the pram.

Boufal should have had a wake-up call after his World Cup snub and, well, if he is allowed by Hughes back into the Saints fold, he would have a lot to prove.

“It’s true that today a return to France interests me a great deal,” Boufal is reported to have told French media outlet, SFR Sport recently.

“A good club in France that plays in Europe, of course, I would be very very interested in returning.

“It’s a league I know, a language I know... so it’s true, a return to France.

“L’Olympique de Marseille remain a very big club.

“This year they’ve made it to the final of the Europa League... of course, L’OM interests me, if they are interested, why not sign for them?”