MOHAMED Elyounoussi has been backed to earn himself another opportunity at Saints by a man who helped coach him on the south coast.

Mark Hughes’ former Saints assistant, Mark Bowen, is tipping the Norwegian to flourish at Celtic, having already made a strong start north of the border.

Speaking to the MailSport, Bowen said: “We paid a big fee to get him in at Southampton but, looking back, it was probably too soon for him in the Premier League.

“Also, we weren’t playing particularly well at the time and that made it even tougher for Mo to settle.

“No disrespect to Celtic but they’ll be playing in games where they dominate possession. They’ll have loads of the ball.

“So I’ve no doubts he’ll do well up there and be a real asset for Celtic.

“He was very highly rated when we signed him. He was linked with the likes of Arsenal at that time, so we really pushed the boat out to get him.”

Saints paid £16m to land Elyounoussi in 2018, with the 25-year-old managing to make just 19 appearances in his debut season.

Manager Ralph Hasenhuttl then allowed the Norwegian to leave on loan in the summer to give him the opportunity to play regularly again.

Although he was signed during Hughes’ tenure, Bowen added that Ross Wilson, Saints’ former director of football operations, played an integral part in bringing him to St Mary’s.

“Ross was behind the signing and really rated him as well,” added Bowen.

“But it was maybe just the wrong timing for him. Mo needs a lot of the ball to go and do what he does best.

“He might not have been ready for the Premier League at that time but, after a year at Celtic, I expect him to go back to Southampton and be far better prepared.

 “He has to convince them that he can do a good job for them but I’m sure he can because he’s an excellent boy and a top player.”