While the Celtic supporters greeted the news of Mohamed Elyounoussi’s return warmly this week, there is no disguising the fact they were also hoping he would have been joined on the car journey back up the road from Southampton to Glasgow by Fraser Forster.

Alas, the big keeper looks to be staying put at St Mary’s, at least for now, with manager Ralph Hassenhuttl offering him the chance to compete for the number one jersey.

Elyounoussi though, while not about to put words in his friend’s mouth, isn’t throwing in the towel on the prospect of lining up alongside him for Celtic next term. With so much time between now and the start of next season, he hopes there may well be a twist in the tale yet.

“I cannot talk on Fraser’s behalf,” Elyounoussi said.

“He mentioned to me what could happen but that’s between me and him. All we can do is wait and see what’s going to happen. But I still hope he’s going to come back.

“We know what he’s capable of, he’s an amazing goalkeeper. If it doesn’t work out, then it doesn’t work out. I want the best for him as he’s a great lad as well as being a great goalkeeper.

“I’m sure it’s not easy for him because Southampton have to finish their season first before he gets a chance there or not. I think he should get that chance, but you never know. Then he maybe needs to see what his options are.

“There is still plenty of time for him to come back here. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens next.”

Elyounoussi has been keen to talk up the role that the Celtic supporters played in the club securing his services for another season on loan earlier this week, leaving him in no doubt just how much he was wanted in Glasgow.

Arguably though, it was the belief that the man in the dugout showed in him that was the driving force behind the move.

Elyounoussi is the first to admit that he didn’t have his best game against Rangers in the Betfred Cup final back in December as he struggled to shake off a foot injury that saw him sidelined after that match until February. But the fact that Neil Lennon trusted him to take to the field, even when he wasn’t one hundred percent fit, told the winger everything he needed to know about his manager’s faith in him.

After a bruising experience at Southampton since his club record £16m transfer from FC Basel in 2018, that belief in his ability is one of the main things he has been searching for, and the fact he has found it in Lennon was pivotal to his decision to reject the likes of Real Betis for another year at Celtic Park.

“He showed a lot of confidence in me,” Elyounoussi explained. “Even in the Cup Final against Rangers, I wasn’t one hundred percent, but he wanted me to play in that game.

“It didn’t work well for me that day, but it showed he had a lot of confidence in me.

“That’s part of the reason why I wanted to come here for another year. I feel like I have more to give. Now that game is gone, I’m just happy that we won the cup.

“At the time, it was frustrating with injury and I had a setback after that which put me out of action for a couple of months. But now that’s all gone and I’m just focusing on the new season, to prepare as well as possible and hopefully it’s going to be successful.

“The manager is a very good mentor. He knows the quality of each player. He knows what to say to each player. I think that’s the difference between some managers and the good ones. They know what to say to you or to him or what not to say. He knows how to motivate us, to keep its on our toes, so we give everything. That’s what I like and it’s why I enjoy working with him.

“He’s just told me to be myself. He knows what I’m capable of. He doesn’t demand too much. No one can put more pressure on me than I put on myself.

“He just wants me to be myself and do what I can to help the team.

“There were other clubs interested so I had options. But this was the best option for me. The whole package was the best one for me so I’m just happy to get the deal done."

The prospect of claiming a place in Celtic folklore next term was also undoubtedly a factor in Elyounoussi’s decision-making over the last few weeks, and while he knows that every team they come up against will be desperate to stop them, he is certain he and his teammates can thrive under the pressure.

“It’s exciting,” he said.

“It excites me, and I want to be part of it. It’s going to be a big season.

“I’m sure all of the other teams are going to do everything to try and stop us, especially Rangers. That’s going to make it interesting.

“I know if I was with the other teams, I’d want to beat Celtic. Not because of 10 in-a-row. Any game.

“You always want to play well against the bigger teams. That’s how it is and how it’s always been.

“It’s more pressure on us but I enjoy playing under pressure.”