SOFIANE Boufal is doing his best to ensure Moussa Djenepo doesn’t make the same mistakes he made when he first arrived at Saints.

Boufal landed at St Mary’s back in 2016 on a lengthy five-year deal for a then club-record £16m fee.

Despite his technical ability, things didn’t work out the way he had hoped which resulted in him being sent out on loan to Celta Vigo last season.

An invigorated Boufal, with a point to prove, returned to Saints this summer and has gone on to win over manager Ralph Hasenhuttl.

And with his close friend, Djenepo, having an excellent start to life on the south coast, the Moroccan international has taken him under his wing.

“Moussa is my brother,” explained Boufal.

“I am happy to play with him and I am also happy for the club because they have bought a very good player.

“When we play together I am excited because I know him, and he knows me and how we play. We enjoy our time together.”

Speaking more specifically about guiding the summer signing, Boufal added: “Of course. I am like that, if I can help a young player then I will do it.

“I have experience in England and I have given him advice about the things that I did wrong.

“I said what is a good way and what is a bad way. I want to help him a lot so that he doesn’t lose time and to know everything quickly.

“I was speaking with him about my mistakes about how I lost time and the bad things I did.

“I want to help him stay focused on what he needs to do, even if he doesn’t play.

“I want him to be ready to smash the Premier League.”

When questioned about the errors he made in his first spell at Saints, the 26-year-old said he only wants to focus on the future.

He added: “I know my mistakes, but I don’t want to speak a lot about that because I want to look forward and not back.”

A part of that looking forward came from his first meeting with Hasenhuttl.

Instead of thinking about himself, Boufal knew he’d, potentially, have to sacrifice some aspects of his game to suit the needs of Saints’ boss.

It was a question that remained hanging over him during the summer as to whether he’d be able to fit in under Hasenhuttl’s philosophy.

Although, by sounds of it, it didn’t take Boufal long to make up his mind.

“The first day I came here I knew I was going to stay,” revealed the former Lille playmaker.

“I know me, and I know what I need to do. I know I can play with the philosophy of the manager.

“I was never scared to think that I need to leave the club or that the club doesn’t want me. I was just focused on the new season. I love this game and I love this club.

“I am ambitious, and I am a fighter.”

Throughout the interview, Boufal shows a level of maturity that was perhaps missing from his first stint on the south coast.

There are many players who when they get their move to the Premier League think they’ve made it to the big time and start dropping their performance levels.

Boufal managed to show glimpses of what he was capable of, with his dazzling solo effort against West Brom perfect evidence of this.

So, when he was sent packing to Celta Vigo by ex-boss Mark Hughes last summer, the 26-year-old knew he had some growing up to do if he wanted to make a triumphant return to St Mary’s.

He was thrust into a new culture and admits that the experience helped him mature as both a person and footballer.

“It was good,” revealed Boufal.

“I loved my time there. It was a new country, a new language and a new philosophy. Everything was different.

“People live not as they do here, so it was completely different. I can now speak Spanish which is fine as well.

“Playing against Messi and in the Santiago Bernabeu was a good experience.

“I played him [Messi] just once because in the first game we played just before the holidays, so afterwards all the players took a flight and went away.

“The next game was at home, but his team were already champions, so they just had young players on the pitch.

“I think I have come back more mature and I know exactly what I want to do.”

There was a stat doing the rounds on Twitter that showed all of the stats from last year’s La Liga.

It wouldn’t be a surprise to reveal that Lionel Messi topped most of them, although there was one he didn’t win.

He was pipped to first place in the most completed dribbles category by Saints’ very own Boufal.

Speaking about beating Messi, the Moroccan international added: “It’s good because he is the best player in history and in all the statistics it was just Messi and then Boufal.

“It’s very hard to beat Messi in all the statistics but, for me, I know what I can do and it’s my strength.

“I now need to put that strong point for the team and to try and have the highest statistic to help this team score.”