MOHAMED ELYOUNOUSSI admits his loan spells at Celtic are the catalyst for his impressive season with Southampton in the Premier League.

The Norway international forward has become a key man for Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side, featuring 20 times and scoring seven goals to aid their charge in the top half of the table.

That form comes on the back of two temporary seasons with the Bhoys, where he notched a total of 25 goals in 69 outings, including six strikes in European competition and an effort in last March’s Old Firm stalemate.

Elyounoussi initially struggled at Southampton after making a £16 million switch from Basel in summer 2018.

He said: “It [the time at Celtic] benefited me in terms of game time, I needed game time, to find myself again where I was before I came to Southampton.

"I scored a few goals, especially in the Europa League for Celtic, and that's maybe where Ralph [Hasenhuttl] saw my strengths as a player, not just creating chances, but also as a goalscorer.

"The last pass and things that he can use, and I fit much better now to how he wants us to play, than perhaps when he first came in and we were struggling a bit.

"It was then all about staying in the Premier League, but now we are fighting for the top ten and that's where we belong."

Hasenhuttl admits Elyounoussi’s time north of the border has transformed the player.

He added: “I think this loan time definitely helped him to make the next step in his development. 

“It was important for him to get game time there – 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’."