Mohamed Elyounoussi insists he remains fully focused on Celtic despite Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl opening the door for his Premier League return.
The Saints boss allowed Norway winger Elyounoussi to return to Parkhead this summer on another season-long loan but has been impressed with his recent Hoops displays.
The £16million man struck a stunning double in last week’s Europa League draw in Lille before scoring the goal which sealed victory over Aberdeen in Sunday’s William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final.
The 26-year-old has now bagged eight goals in 17 appearances in all competitions so far this season and Hasenhuttl admits Elyounoussi still has a future on the south coast next term.
He said: “I am very happy for (Elyounoussi) that he scored and I am happy to see it. And, definitely, the player has a chance to maybe come back in and to be a part of the team, maybe next year.”
That would disappoint the Celtic faithful but Elyounoussi admits Southampton are currently the furthest thing from his mind as he focuses on adding to the two medals he claimed last season with Neil Lennon’s team.
He said: “I haven’t had much contact (from Hasenhuttl). I’m just focusing on myself and what I can do for the club here. That’s the main thing for me.
“Whatever happens next season is in the future. Of course I’m watching what Southampton are doing and they’re doing really well.
“I’m enjoying my time here at Celtic and I’m trying to enjoy my game. That’s my main focus. We will come to the future later on. As long as I keep playing well, that’s the most important thing.”
While Elyounoussi has impressed, there are not too many in the champions’ camp who can say the same of late.
The Hampden victory over the Dons was their first in four games but – having taken another step towards the quadruple treble – Elyounoussi wants to advance Celtic’s Europa League hopes when they host Sparta Prague on Thursday.
He said: “We’re really pleased to be through to another final. Any team can have a dip in form but I think we’re back on it now after a good week.
“It was a good performance away in Lille and then again on Sunday so this is something we need to build on.
“We need to keep the momentum going. We’re expecting a tough game against Prague. Obviously both teams are looking for the win and to keep the possibility to go through.
“We know the importance of this game and anything less than a win would be disappointing.
“A club this size, of course there will be disappointment and criticism if you lose a game.
“The thing is, we’re disappointed as well if we don’t win. We try to win every game we go into but any team can lose. That happens.
“Now we’re just looking forward. Those games are gone.
“Yes I was surprised. The criticism I don’t understand it to be honest. I haven’t read anything, it’s just what I’ve heard from you guys (the media).
“But in the end I know we have our supporters behind us. That’s the most important thing.
“The criticism doesn’t come into our changing room. We believe in ourselves and everyone at the club is working to help us achieve our goals.
“There will always be people who are against us for whatever reason and all we can do is prove them wrong.”