It’s been a quiet summer in the south of England.
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Coming off a 12th-place finish in last year’s Premier League season, manager Eddie Howe has been patient in the transfer market, instead preferring to work with the players already at his disposal. Now in the club’s fourth-straight season in the Premier League, Howe has developed a side that plays free-flowing soccer at times as well as having a strong defense, with some players catching the eye of bigger clubs.
Lewis Cook is a Tottenham transfer target and with Bournemouth reportedly ready to break its transfer record to sign Colombian Jefferson Lerma, Cook could be allowed to leave. With two more friendly matches before the start of the season, Howe could put the finishing touches on his squad ahead of the August 9 deadline, as Bournemouth looks to rebound from a slightly disappointing season last year.
One good piece of news for U.S. Men’s National Team fans…Emerson Hyndman has been a full participant in Bournemouth’s preseason training and this may be his year to break into the first team for good.
Bournemouth will finish in the top ten because….Lerma, Nathan Ake, Asmir Begovic and Harry Arter play at the level that they have shown in flashes in the past. Although Bournemouth is a small club, the amount of talent on the books is impressive and if the team gels together and finds goals from new sources (with Benik Afobe off to Wolverhampton), the team can certainly push into mid-table territory, if not even challenge for the Europa League.
Bournemouth will barely survive relegation because…Jermain Defoe, who turns 36-years old in October, can’t be relied on anymore. Callum Wilson and Joshua King continue to struggle in front of net and while the defense is solid, it’s no match for the top-6 clubs. Bournemouth is in the thick of the relegation struggle but Howe manages to guide his team to safety, but only just. The lack of major signings in the summer comes back to haunt Howe, especially if the club can’t get the Lerma signing over the finish line.
Best possible XI: List the team’s strongest lineup for this season when everyone is fit
Transfers In: David Brooks (Sheffield United, $13 million), Diego Rico (Leganes, $14 million)
Transfers Out: Benik Afobe (Wolverhampton, $10 million), Max Gradel (Toulouse, undisclosed), Adam Federici (Stoke City, undisclosed), Lewis Grabban (Nottingham Forest, undisclosed)
Ranking their offseason: C+. It’s hard to tell so far how the new signings Brooks and Rico will do in the Premier League, with Brooks coming from the Championship and Rico from a small club in La Liga. The departures won’t hurt the club very much but if Bournemouth want to push on from where it finished last year, the current signings may not have been enough. Especially if the team loses Lewis Cook.
Star player: Asmir Begovic: The Canadian-raised Bosnia and Herzegovina goalkeeper has literally saved many points for Bournemouth since joining in 2017. If Bournemouth pushes into the top ten again, it will be thanks to strong goalkeeping from Begovic.
Coaches’ Corner: With Arsene Wenger now gone, Howe is currently the longest-serving manager with his club in the Premier League. The former Bournemouth defender has drawn praise from across the world for keeping Bournemouth in the Premier League and playing an exciting brand of soccer. At times over the last three seasons, Bournemouth didn’t back down from the Premier League giants, and against other clubs lower in the table, the team was able to express itself more freely and control possession. Howe has done a terrific job, but it will be interesting to see if he’s taken Bournemouth as high as it can go, or if he can lead the club to new heights.
PST predicts: We predict that Bournemouth will again be fighting relegation. As things stand, the club is not much improved since last season and other than the two new signings, – and potentially others before the transfer window shuts – the squad doesn’t seem like it’s improved more than the one that recorded just 44 points last season. There’s plenty of pressure on Howe to keep the team in the Premier League this season and return the club to the top ten.