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Tottenham targeting this emerging Ligue 1 star, but have a lot of competition

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Sofiane Boufal is young and talented, and that’s put him on the radar of a lot of top clubs.

Everton FC v LOSC Lille - UEFA Europa League
Lille fans supporting their club in a Europa League match against Everton.
Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

More transfer news from our favorite pro-Tottenham Sky Sports journalist! While we’ve all been focused on Victor Wanyama, Vincent Janssen, and Michy Batshuayi, Lyall Thomas reminded us via Twitter today that there are potentially more targets on Spurs’ radar when the transfer window opens next month.

The article that Lyall links to is from the Guardian, and talks about Lille’s attacking midfielder Sofiane Boufal. If the name sounds familiar, it’s because Spurs have been (very) nominally linked to him since at least 2015, but only in rags and aggregators reporting from dubious French media sources. We’ve never written about him because there’s never really been any real reason to do so. Now, maybe there is.

Boufal is a 22-year old Moroccan midfielder whom Lille bought for €4m in January 2015. He scored 12 times for Lille this past season with four assists; Michael Caley’s stats say he had 4 xG + 8 xA in 2300 minutes, good statistics for a young player, though Ligue 1 isn’t always the best indicator of future Premier League success for young footballers. He played mostly as a wide attacking forward for Lille this season in a 4-3-3 formation, though he can play across the front attacking band.

The Guardians says that Lille wants €25m (£19.6m) for him, and he’s been linked with a number of big clubs. His agent is talking up a link to Barcelona, but agents say a lot of things. He is also linked to Chelsea, Arsenal, and PSG. They don’t mention Tottenham at all, except in a “they used to be interested” sense. That kind of big attention probably puts him out of Spurs’ price range unless they decide to spend big, or unless a lot of other clubs ultimately pass.

Boufal would be an interesting get, though with players like Clinton N’Jie and Josh Onomah already on the roster it makes for a pretty crowded attacking midfield situation. The addition of Boufal or a player like him probably means the death knell for someone like Nacer Chadli or Alex Pritchard. But again, this is all speculation.

I can’t say I’ve seen a whole lot of Boufal except what’s on highlight videos with bad music, but he’s exactly the kind of player that Spurs should be targeting as they prepare for a season in the Champions League. This doesn’t mean that Spurs are going to sign him, but it’s encouraging to know that he’s on Mauricio Pochettino’s list.