Every Premier League club wants to find a goalscorer that is a 20-goal-a-season man. AFC Bournemouth have bought a striker that may have that potential, buthaving been plucked from a Championship side, Benik Afobe will have to quickly adapt to his new team to try and emulate the successes of other players that have taken the Premier League by storm.
Bournemouth have splashed the cash and it is the moment when they felt they had to do so if they were going to make a realistic challenge of keeping their top-flight status. They were not the only side that wanted to bring Afobe to the top-tier in English football, but they were the ones that were prepared to meet the transfer fee of Wolves and even though the Cherries will try and take the pressure off their new record signing, all eyes will be on Benik’s performances now.
Can the attacker score the goals to keep the Cherries up? Eddie Howe certainly believes he can and while the team is unlikely to rely on one striker – Lewis Grabban was also signed this week – there will be big expectations for the ex-Arsenal man to find his feet quickly with the way the seaside town likes to play its attacking football.
“Benik brings power, strength and skill and most hopefully goals to this team,” said Eddie Howe. Bournemouth fans certainly hope so.
The Cherries manager may feel on the inside that the signing of any player is a gamble, but he has had plenty of time to weigh up the merits of Benik over other options that he might have gone for in this January window. That confidence that Howe has the right man for the job will only be proved in time with results. However, the long-term prospects of a 22-year-old striker coming into the club with Arsenal schooling, a good scoring record at Wolves and high ambitions, are strong omens that he’ll fit in well.
As a British player that has come up from the Championship, Afobe should be on similar wages to those already in the squad and he has time to improve his contract depending on how well he does. Therefore, the risk to AFC Bournemouth has been limited more than if they had gone for a striker that had already played many seasons at a higher club and who wanted to remain on big wages – despite not hitting top form. I mention no names.
Instead, Benik ticked all the boxes for Howe as he can see a player that still has much to learn, who is hungry to improve, can be at the club for a long time and will not disrupt the dressing room.
It is now over to the forward to show the fans and the club what he has and to play with the right attitude. He will have seen how players like Odion Ighalo and Jamie Vardy have thrived and improved their respective teams, and he now faces that challenge at Bournemouth. He won’t find it hard to get chances playing in such a creative team though, and Howe will be aiming to make him feel calm when in front of goal so he can provide the finishes that the team need.
The pieces of the jigsaw are coming together and we may just be seeing that our young manager has a very good eye for a player in the transfer market. The change now is that we have the money to go out and buy players of the quality of Afobe. He may not be the finished article, but Eddie will be looking forward to working with such a talent who is still at a very young stage in his career.
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