As Celtic shot themselves to the top of the Premiership yesterday, one of Neil Lennon’s regulars at the start of the season had to settle for a place on the bench yet again – Mohamed Elyounoussi.
For the third time in a row, Moi was rooted to the subs list as the manager decided to go with Greg Taylor at left wing-back against Livingston.
Granted, Taylor has hardly claimed the spot for himself in recent weeks, but he did manage an assist in yesterday’s 3-2 win over the Lions. Stat experts WhoScored also gave him a decent ranking of 7.21 out of 10 for his display.
It left Elyounoussi, on loan from Southampton for the season, with only five minutes worth of a cameo. Unsurprisingly, he didn’t manage to make an impact in such a short period.
But the Livingston game is just part of the big warning the manager has given the Saints-owned left-winger. Elyounoussi didn’t manage to make his line-up against Ross County or St Mirren respectively either.
His last start came against Motherwell in a 3-0 win before the international break at the end of last month. WhoScored gave him a rating of 6.56 in that one – the lowest-ranked player in the starting XI. Unsurprisingly, he was hooked at half-time for a poor performance.
Plenty of players have come in for criticism, some fairly and some unjust. But nobody can look at Elyounoussi and think we’re getting exactly we hoped for when he re-signed.
Elyounoussi yet to find last October’s spark
The former Basel man netted six goals and bagged seven assists last season in what was an impressive run of form between October and November (Transfermarkt). However, a nasty foot injury kept Moi out for December and January, and he subsequently struggled to make an impact before the global pandemic shut Scottish football down.
But it was that form almost a year ago that made the announcement of his second loan spell with us so exciting. So far, however, he hasn’t gotten up to speed.
Lennon started Elyounoussi in each of our first six competitive games of the campaign. That he has only one assist in his six Premiership outings is also pretty telling for one of our supposedly better attack-minded players.
It’s early days of course, and there have been plenty of players who have struggled to hit their usual heights in the early part of the season.
Yet looking at Moi, you just expect a bit more than what we’re getting at the minute. The last few team-sheets made by Lennon shows that the manager feels the same way.
We’re also talking about a player who cost Southampton £16m here (BBC). For that kind of money, you would expect him to be tearing things up in Scotland.
On Thursday night, Celtic travel to Riga in the Europa League third qualifying round. Making a good impression in Latvia and managing to shoot us to the Europa League would be a good start as Elyounoussi looks to pick up his form again.