SAINTS attacker Mohamed Elyounoussi is closing in on a new “long-term” contract to keep him at Southampton for the foreseeable future, sources have told the Daily Echo.

The Norwegian international has just 12 months left on his current deal but talks between his representatives and the club have ramped up in recent weeks and both sides are understood to be confident a positive resolution will arrive soon. 

It is believed the contract will be for three to four years, with the exact length one of the details that still needs finalising. 

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There is confidence on all sides though that it is just a matter of time before the extension is sealed.

It’s understood that Southampton see Elyounoussi as a crucial member of Ralph Hasenhuttl's squad while the player himself feels valued and would like to continue his career on the South Coast. 

Elyounoussi joined Southampton in the summer of 2018 for a fee of around £16m but he made just 16 league appearances in his maiden campaign before departing for Celtic on loan.

Flashes of his talent in Scotland saw that temporary stay extended for another year before the 27-year-old returned to St Mary’s last summer.

After sitting on the bench for the first two games of the season, Elyounoussi started in the third at Newcastle and became a near ever-present in Hasenhuttl's side after that. He ended the campaign with 33 appearances in all competitions, including 16 in his side’s final 17 matches.

Daily Echo: Elyounoussi in action for Saints this season. Image by: Stuart MartinElyounoussi in action for Saints this season. Image by: Stuart Martin

Four goals and two assists is not the most enthralling return from all those minutes but it’s clear Hasenhuttl sees Elyounoussi as a crucial component of his squad.

A hard-worker and capable of moving inside when Saints’ marauding full-backs fly up the wing, the Moroccan-born forward should continue to have a sizable role heading into the new season.

“I think this loan time definitely helped him to make the next step in his development,” Hasenhuttl told the Daily Echo in February.

“It was important for him to get game time there (at Celtic) – it was always a problem here in the beginning.

“It is always tough when you are coming into a new team, then the team is not performing well and you are a little bit under the radar and don’t get a chance to play a lot.

“So, I think he needed this time and we were always following him, looking how he developed his game and it was for me, in the summer, a very clear decision to say ‘I want him back in this team’.

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“Immediately in the pre-season I saw he could give me a lot, what I want to have in this position. He is a smart player, he can score goals, he is running a lot, covers a lot of distance and is disciplined in the defence.

“He is a quick learner and he learned to be more resilient in the Premier League. This is what you have to be, because it’s tough – it is physically a tough league. When you learn to do this, then the package is a good one and I think meanwhile, he showed he is a good package.”

"I've always said I thrive in Southampton, it's a fantastic club,” Elyounoussi told Norwegian outlet TV2 last month. 

“The family thrives well. We'll see what we land on.”

Set to turn 28 before the start of the 2022/23 season, a three/four year contract would keep Elyounoussi at the club past his 30th birthday. 

Recently on international duty with Norway, Elyounoussi joined his Saints teammates at Staplewood this week for pre-season preperations ahead of their upcoming trip to Austria.

With just under a month until Southampton travel to North London to face Tottenham in the opening game of the season, the club have been busy reinforcing the squad that limped to the finish line last spring.

Thus far Gavin Bazunu, Mateusz Lis, Armel Bela-Kotchap and Romeo Lavia have signed while a deal for Rangers midfielder Joe Aribo is believed to be close.

Moussa Djenepo, Theo Walcott and Nathan Redmond could all still depart should suitable permanent or loan moves be found but Elyounoussi is set to stay with a new deal reinforcing his and the club's commitment to each other.

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