Seven out of the last 12 teams promoted to the Premier League have been relegated at the first time of asking over the past four seasons. One of those sides was Scott Parker’s Fulham who were promoted to the top flight via the play-offs, but despite a late survival charge, were immediately sent back to EFL Championship.
His takeover at AFC Bournemouth has switched on immediate success, with the Cherries achieving promotion at the first time of asking. But the jury is out as to whether Parker can keep a promoted side in the PL, and to give him a fighting chance the club have to recruit well around him and he must adapt to the defects of them in the Championship.
With Freddie Woodman on his way back to Newcastle after his loan and likely to secure another spot in the Championship season they’re left with only two senior goalkeepers at the club. One of those being Mark Travers, who at the moment looks set to keep his place as the number one after starting 45/46 games during the Cherries promotion campaign.
It could be that Parker opts to bring in a goalkeeper to help bridge the gap in top-flight experience, as Travers has only played three games in the Premier League.
Dean Henderson – Manchester United
Currently at Manchester United, Henderson has found first-team minutes hard to come by since his two-season loan spell with Sheffield United. Newcastle United have been linked persistently with the shot-stopper, but it’s reported that they aren’t interested in signing the 25-year-old this summer.
Therefore in search for game time, Henderson could make his way to the south coast in a bid to boost Bournemouth’s survival bid. His spell at Sheffield United earnt him an England call-up and meant he became one of the countries brightest goalkeeping prospects.
Managing to concede 0.86 goals per game during the 19/20 campaign, Henderson also displayed impressive distribution during his spell with the Blades with 65.2% of his long passes meeting their targets. There could be scope for him to move down the division if he isn’t seen in new boss Erik ten Hag’s plans, but if not Sam Johnstone on a free transfer could be a viable choice.
Luis Maximiano – Granada
Only, 23, Maximiano is a young progressive goalkeeper and could be available for a cut fee after being relegated with Granada. Deemed a ‘wonderkid’ during his time at former club Sporting Lisbon, the Portuguese is best suited to a side who are unlikely to dominate the ball with Granada only occupying 45% of the ball on average.
Maximiano was expected to concede 1.54 goals per 90, but instead went on to let in 1.44. If Bournemouth are to go for a slightly more direct style, the 23-year-old could add an interesting angle to their goalkeeping department, with 9.24 accurate long balls per 90.
The obvious downside is that he hasn’t played in English football before and therefore would have to adjust himself to the division pretty quickly, but with a market value of £10million – he could be a long-standing number one.
The centre-back department is the biggest area for the Cherries to strengthen. Gary Cahill is expected to leave the club after spending just a season under Scott Parker at the Vitality Stadium. It’s almost certain that Parker will want to keep Nat Phillips permanently though after an impressive campaign at the heart of the Cherries defence.
Captain and left-footed centre-back Lloyd Kelly was a big miss for Parker’s men when unavailable, the Cherries won 25 of the 41 games he played, but only won two of the nine he was out for. Parker will want to improve his back-line as they head into the new campaign and bolster his options there.
Nat Phillips – Liverpool
The Reds defender became a more than useful asset for Parker during the second half of the season after joining on loan. Phillips, only 25 years old, has the experience in the top-flight, albeit fairly limited, making 17 appearances during Liverpool’s 2020/21 campaign.
The centre-back won 74.7% of his duels whilst on loan, and proved to be a valuable asset. However, it’s unknown as to whether he will make his stay on the south coast permanent or not next season.
Lucas Martinez Quarta – Fiorentina
A fairly unknown quantity outside of Italy, Martinez Quarta moved to Fiorentina from River Plate in 2020. Since moving to Florence, the Argentinian has looked assured on the ball and confident when defending one-on-one duels.
Winning 60.3% of his duels, and making 6.43 passes into the final third per 90 minutes played, Martinez Quarta could be capable of making the step up into the Premier League. However, with a market value of £15million, the defender is likely to cost a penny or two to bring him into the division which would provide a downside.
Reece Oxford – Augsburg
The busier of the three centre-back targets, making 11.8 defensive actions per 90 minutes played, which is more likely to be down to Augsburg’s poor form in the Bundesliga. However, Oxford boasts the most impressive percentage with 72.96% of those won.
Previously thought of as one of the brightest prospects to come out of West Ham United’s academy, the 23-year-old left the Hammers in search of first-team action. Could it be that after three years, Oxford may be tempted to move back to England in search of that PL game time?
Norwich City loanee Todd Cantwell will be heading back to the Canaries after Bournemouth opted not to make his stay permanent. This leaves the Cherries light on attacking midfielders, but definitely strong when it comes to those that can play the ‘number six’ roles in the middle. The likes of Phillip Billing, Jefferson Lerma and Lewis Cook can all general the midfield well, but Parker may enjoy having a differential in that zone.
Nadim Bajrami – FC Empoli
The 23-year-old has shone whilst playing for a relatively poor Empoli side in Serie A, and became the creative force for the outfit. Grabbing six goals and seven assists in the Italian top flight, Bajrami can be the link between the midfield and the final third.
His 3.95 successful dribbles per 90, mean he’s well adapted to bringing the ball forward solo and with a market value of £9million – could add creativity to a potential suitor.
Franck Honorat – Brest
Definitely more of a winger than the sought-after number 10, Honorat adds the forward gusto into the Brest attack. His 2.79 touches in the penalty area per 90 put him up there as one of the best in Ligue 1 in his most productive campaign so far.
With 3.29 progressive runs per 90 too, Honorat loves to grab the ball in deep areas and drive forwards whenever possible. Along with this, his goalscoring output has been equally impressive, having scored 11 goals during the 2021/22 season and at a market value of just £10million, he’s likely to stir up interest this summer.
Callum O’Hare – Coventry City
A bright spark in the EFL Championship for Coventry, O’Hare has caught the attention of the likes of Tottenham Hotspur in the top flight. But the attacking midfielder may fancy a chance for more minutes, which is why Bournemouth could be an attractive prospect for him.
O’Hare’s similarities to fellow Aston Villa academy product Jack Grealish are unparalleled with the Coventry midfielder’s determination to be positive in possession all too similar to the current Manchester City man.
At the age of only 24, his five goals and eight assists have been best topped off with 4.72 successful dribbles per 90. With a market value of just £3.6 million, Parker could aim to bolster his ranks with O’Hare.
Dominic Solanke’s goals were essential in firing Bournemouth to the Premier League, finishing the campaign on 29 goals which without Aleksandr Mitrovic’s freak season would’ve meant he won the golden boot. However, Parker has limited striking options to pair or supplement Solanke, and may look for experience in his recruitment in this area.
A pin-point finisher on his day, Pukki has excelled in both seasons in the top-flight, despite Norwich’s failures on both occasions. The 32-year-old could look to move on from the Canaries in search of a more successful PL goal tally in an arguably better side.
His 11 goals last season outperformed his 10.86 expected goals and his ability to find tight spaces in the box was once again proved as he lead the Norwich front-line effectively.
However, it will be difficult to prise the Fin away from Dean Smith, as they look to make an immediate return to the promised land, with an already complete squad for the second tier. But Pukki could pair up with Solanke well if they make a move for him.
Parker’s tactics in the Championship with the Cherries have very much been working with the mentality of scoring first and holding on to their leads. Which is not necessarily the most exciting option in the second tier, but one that can prove effective.
The ex-Fulham boss will continue this as they play better opposition, with him seen as having a similar footballing ideal to former Cherries manager Eddie Howe. Scott Parker is very much seen as a continuation of the club’s vision after Howe, as he aims to develop young players and will hope that the activity in the summer transfer window will keep the team in the Premier League.
By Louis Bent / @louisbent_
Featured Image: @GabFoligno / David Horton – CameraSport
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