AFC Bournemouth are a club on the rise. A consistent spell of progression, enhancement, and development has taken place over the last ten years and you’d be a fool to bet against the Dorset side taking the next step next season. With a style that you’d usually associate with one of the top six sides in the Premier League, Bournemouth play a slick, passing, attacking brand of football that’s easy on the eye and pleasing to watch under club legend Eddie Howe. But what do they need to get to that next level?
Well, most of the ingredients are already there. Shrewd business last summer from Eddie Howe saw him buy in some of England’s most prosperous talents, Jordan Ibe and Lewis Cook being just two examples. While neither have played as much as expected, both are clearly being bedded into a side that prides itself on developing its talents rather than buying ready-made stars. Similarly, Eddie Howe was able to attract the likes of Jack Wilshere despite being one of the league’s smallest clubs in terms of infrastructure and financial capabilities. On that note, keeping Wilshere at the club longer than his current season loan is certainly an avenue in need of exploring. The Arsenal man has sprinkled some class, big game experience, and extra creativity to the Bournemouth midfield and the medical staff have clearly found a solution to his regular injury-prone streak. With Arsenal’s own midfield heavily packed and catered for, it’s perhaps not infeasible to expect Wilshere to join permanently or for a further loan period.
Likewise, attempting to bring Chelsea youngster Nathan Ake back down south next summer would prove to be another shrewd deal for the club. Beginning the season as bench warmer, Ake found some form in November and December at both left back and centre back and was swiftly recalled to his parent club in January and has barely played a minute since. With that seemingly impregnable defence at Stamford Bridge all but sorted, Ake may find his route to the first team difficult and might want to return to a club where he has perhaps played his best football. Another Chelsea player attracting interest from Eddie Howe is that of Asmir Begovic, the reserve keeper. A deal to bring him to Bournemouth fell apart this January and Howe is likely to try to relight the embers of that move in the coming transfer window.
Next, an extra central defender or two wouldn’t go a-miss. With Tyrone Mings being suspended for his part in the Ibrahimovic tryst a few weekends ago has exposed the lack of depth in Bournemouth’s defence. Similarly, moving on some of the dead weight from their squad must be high on Eddie Howe’s agenda, with Lewis Grabban, Andrew Surman and Eunan O’Kane players who could be finding new clubs during the close season. However, retaining Eddie Howe himself is arguably the most important bit of business to be done this summer. With Arsenal potentially looking for a new manager in the coming months, and many already suggesting that Howe is the ideal candidate to move the Gunners forward, you’d expect the board to already being putting a move in motion to keep him at the club.
Despite the Premier League being as unpredictable as ever in recent seasons, and with West Brom, Everton, Burnley, Stoke, and others performing above expectations, progress into the top ten may be a tough task but one that isn’t beyond them. Year upon year it seems that the Dorset club overreach targets, overreach their abilities and overreach their league standings and they have every chance of moving up another step, up another level and closer to the biggest and best of the Premier League elite.