Lille attacking midfielder Sofiane Boufal must continue his rapid improvement or risk missing out on a high-profile move to Tottenham Hotspur, according to his manager Frederic Antonetti. The 22-year-old has netted eight goals in all competitions this term – one more than he managed in the whole of last season – and is being tracked by a host of Europe's biggest clubs.
The Guardian understands that Arsenal, Manchester City, Manchester United and Spurs have all sent scouts to watch the Frenchman, who has not been capped at any international level. Boufal is valued at £18.3m ($25.7m) by his club and they are ready to cash in on the player at the end of the current season, having retained him beyond the January window.
Tottenham had considered launching a bid for Boufal during the mercato window, according to the Evening Standard, but may return for the forward come the summer. Antonetti is conscious of the interest in his star asset and – consigned to his eventual departure – has attempted to inspire Boufal into a fine run of form by warning him he could miss out on a big-money move if his performance level drops.
"If the rumours disturb us, they can disturb a young player even more," he told Le 10 Sport, according to the Evening Standard. "Of course, he is destined to have a great career. We just need to find out if it will be for a top European club or not. If he wants to join one of the best eight clubs, he must improve his performances. It's always better to move to one of these teams when you are ready, otherwise you risk just watching the others play [from the sidelines], and you don't improve that way."
The three-time French league champions are seven points off a European place and six adrift of the relegation places, however victory in the Coupe de la Ligue final in April over Paris Saint-Germain would assure of them of a place in next season's Europa League. Boufal's form could yet dictate whether his club finish the season with silverware and European football to look forward to, or facing a drop to the second tier.
Mauricio Pochettino's transfer plans in the summer are likely to rest on whether his side can convert their position of authority in the Premier League table, where they are only two points off the top and have a 10-point cushion in the race to qualify for the Champions League. Though Tottenham are fighting on two fronts this season, there remains a perception the club's squad is short of options in attack, where Harry Kane is the sole out-and-out striker.
Exit from the FA Cup at the hands of Crystal Palace has relieved the work load on Tottenham's top scorer, who is expected to play an integral part in Roy Hodgson's England squad in this summer's European Championships. The 22-year-old has netted 21 goals in all competitions this term in a continuation of his form from last season, which saw him take the Premier League by storm.