SOFIANE Boufal continues to be left out of Saints’ 2018/19 preparations, with the Moroccan searching for a move away to find regular football next season.

The 24-year-old is not wanted by Saints manager Mark Hughes after the two allegedly had a bust-up last season following Boufal's refusal to warm-up during a 3-2 defeat at St Mary’s in April.

Subsequently, Boufal, who Saints bought for £16m from Lille in 2016, was left out of the club’s two-week trip to China recently, giving him time to find a new club, whether on a loan deal or permanently.

Certainly, with Saints unlikely to recoup the £16m they spent on him, it seems far more likely that Boufal, who has scored three goals in 50 Premier League appearances, will find a loan deal somewhere.

Paris-born Boufal was highly successful in France and still has a decent reputation there, so it is clear he will head back to Ligue One, where he scored 14 times in 43 league games for Lille.

OG Nice have shown an interest and seem the most likely destination at this point in time, while Marseille have also tracked Boufal.

The attacking midfielder arrived as Sadio Mane’s replacement in August 16, for a then club-record £16m fee.

There was great expectation that Boufal could produce as Mane, who made a £36m switch to Liverpool that same summer, did, but he has only shown he undoubted talent in brief moments.

Last season’s spectacular solo goal during a 1-0 win over West Brom at St Mary’s, when he weaved from inside the Saints half, leaving defenders in his wake before slotting home, will certainly live long in the memory of Saints fans.

However, those moments were few and far between, and Boufal never fully adapted to life in the Premier League.

He was then exiled to train with the club’s under-23s while Saints battled for survival in the top-flight, showing little of the desire and passion the club needed at the point in time after his apparent misdemeanour in the Chelsea match.

Hughes made it clear he wanted players to fight for the cause and Boufal certainly wasn’t among those.

Now he’s after a new club along with goalkeeper Fraser Forster.

With Alex McCarthy, who recently signed a new four-year contract, now Saints’ number one and the £10m signing of impressive young shot stopper Angus Gunn from Manchester City, Forster is now pretty much third choice.

That will leave the 30-year-old, who has been at Saints since 2014 after signing from Celtic in a £10m deal, without playing time in what are meant to be his peak years.

Saints will therefore allow him to head out on loan, if a worthwhile offer comes in.