MOI Elyounoussi insists he always hoped he could return from Celtic and make an impact at Saints, believing he and the club can be "the perfect match".

Elyounoussi has enjoyed a resurgence at Saints this season, after two seasons out on loan.

The Norway international arrived on the south coast from FC Basel for a fee of around £16million in 2018, penning a five-year contract.

However, after making 16 appearances and scoring no goals in his debut campaign, Elyounoussi was sent out on loan to Scottish giants Celtic.

He enjoyed success north of the border, winning the domestic treble in his first season, which was curtailed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Still not in Saints' plans, Elyounoussi returned to Parkhead for a second spell in 2020-21, with his time at the Bhoys eventually ending having netted 25 goals in 68 appearances.

He returned to Ralph Hasenhuttl's Saints squad for pre-season and, after watching on from the bench for the first two matches, grabbed his opportunity in the Carabao Cup with a hat-trick in an 8-0 win over Newport County.

The 27-year-old followed that up with a goal in his first Premier League appearance in over two years, starting the 2-2 draw with Newcastle United last time out.

Elyounoussi has since taken his form to the international stage, netting for Norway during Saturday's 2-0 win in Latvia.

Discussing his return to the Saints squad this season, Elyounoussi told the Daily Echo: "I have to be honest, that was my dream, to come back and to prove everyone wrong.

"But at the same time, I had other offers. I had other opportunities to go and play week in, week out.

"That was also in my mind if it doesn’t work. But after the two first games when I sat on the bench, I felt determined to come back, as soon as I get the opportunity I will show him (Hasenhuttl) that I deserve to play.

"So I’m really happy that he put the trust in me and that I can pay him back for that."

He added: "There were a lot of different reasons why it didn’t work first time.

"So I just want to show why the club brought me in in the first place.

"It’s still early days, I’m going to keep working hard, keep getting better and try to help the team as much as I can."

Daily Echo:

During Elyounoussi's first season at Saints, the club underwent a change of management with Hasenhuttl brought in to replace Mark Hughes.

The Austrian successfully steered the club to Premier League safety, but Elyounoussi's opportunities in the latter months were limited.

Discussing the Morocco-born forward last month, Hasenhuttl said: "I know that he’s a fantastic footballer.

"Meanwhile, we also play a little bit more football (now). That definitely helps him to be a better part of this team.

"When I came here we had more to do with our work against the ball and we hadn’t been so far with our development with the ball.

"But I think he has his biggest qualities with the ball and this is the reason why we need him."

Asked if he feels he now fits in better at Saints than when he was last here, Elyounoussi said: "Yeah, I remember when he (Hasenhuttl) came in we changed the system to 3-5-2 without any wingers, so I didn’t have any position really.

"It’s like he said as well, he was not focusing on what we were going to do with the ball, it was mainly without the ball.

"For myself, I think I’m strong defensively anyway, without the ball as well. I think I’ve shown him that this pre-season and he knows he can rely on me defensively as well, not only offensively.

"But with the ball we try to play more football, I get into pockets, that’s what I’m strong at, get the ball, turn and carry it, combination play with the strikers.

"That’s what I’m enjoying the most and that’s what we’re going to do now. That’s why it’s the perfect match."