By Harry Sykes
Tottenham made a lucrative bid for Sofiane Boufal before he joined Southampton for a club-record fee.
The player’s agent Yvan Le Mee claims Arsenal and Chelsea also tabled offers for the Morocco international during the summer window.
Southampton paid a stunning £21million to sign Boufal from Lille, as manager Claude Puel strengthened the team’s attack.
Interest in Boufal was high, with Tottenham said to be leading the race for his signature before Southampton pounced.
But Mee has indicated that Chelsea came closest to poaching his client before Conte stepped in, adding that Paris Saint-Germain had also looked like a real option.
“We spoke to PSG. If Laurent Blanc had stayed, (Boufal) would have gone to PSG because things would have happened quickly,” Boufal said, as quoted by the Sun.
“We also had Arsenal who – when they lost out on Riyad Mahrez – came back to us, but it didn’t happen. We had Spurs.
“We had Chelsea, but though the club wanted to advance, Antonio Conte wasn’t too keen. It’s the job of the agent to say: ‘Wait – the coach isn’t as enthusiastic as the club, you shouldn’t do it.’”
Boufal enjoyed a successful year in France last season, scoring 12 goals and providing four assists in 35 encounters, helping his side finish in fifth place.
He suffered a knee injury in May which is likely to keep him out of action until September, but this isn’t deterring Southampton’s pursuit.
The Morroco international joined Lille for £3million from then-Ligue 2 club Angers in January 2015, signing a four-year deal.
In other Tottenham transfer news, Ryan Mason shares what was the final straw at White Hart Lane.