Balmont: 'Boufal must follow Hazard example'
LOSC lynchpin Florent Balmont is full of praise for former Angers midfielder Sofiane Boufal, whilst insisting he is 'happy to have stayed' at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy after last summer's transfer speculation.
Veteran midfielder Balmont is now in his eighth season with Les Dogues. Having experienced the highs of a Ligue 1 and Coupe de la League double in 2011, LOSC Lille's current position of 13th - with only five goals scored so far - is somewhat unchartered territory for the 35-year-old. Ahead of LOSC's game with Olympique de Marseille, Balmont is refusing to panic, though.
Balmont: 'we will not hide'
"We will not hide," Balmont told French sports daily L'Equipe. "We have offensive difficulties. Many young players have arrived but in football you do not have much time. We cannot rely only on Sofiane Boufal."
Boufal has scored four of LOSC's five goals so far this campaign, including the opener in last Saturday's 1-1 draw at En Avant de Guingamp, though Balmont sees room for further improvement from the 22-year-old.
"He is a good young man, with a good mentality. I said before he is picking up too many yellow cards (five in nine games). I have been there. When you are young, sometimes you can be a little crazy. With age comes calm. Boufal is not a guest in this team, but he must follow the example of Eden Hazard. He took a lot of hits and got up right away. Boufal works defensively but can still do better."
Lille spent nearly 20 million euros in the summer trying to replace the twin goal threat of AS Saint-Étienne-bound Nolan Roux and Divock Origi, who returned to Liverpool FC after his loan. Although the likes of Baptiste Guillaume, Yassine Benzia and Junior Tallo have yet to open their accounts, Balmont is happy he signed on for another season, and thinks it is just a matter of time before his new colleagues begin to blossom.
"In the end I am very happy that I stayed. It is going very well, in the group too. We all want better results. It can and it must come. I do not worry too much. We expected this season of transition. The fans are aware. The club is not in decline. It's just an intermediate phase. We must remain strong and become more clinical. Dummies do not progress."
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