Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe says he is not close to signing any new players but knows he needs to move fast in the transfer market after a poor start to the season.
The Cherries dominated possession but rarely looked threatening in the 1-0 defeat to West Brom, before being outplayed by Watford in a 2-0 home reverse. They produced just two shots on target in both games. They were unfortunate to lose at home to Manchester City after Raheem Sterling’s deflected effort in the dying seconds, but it is now three defeats in three games.
Howe, who says he does not know exactly what is wrong with the team, has signed defender Nathan Ake for a club record £20 million from Chelsea, with goalkeeper Asmir Begovic also arriving from the Blues for £10 million. Jermain Defoe and Connor Mahoney have also joined from Sunderland and Blackburn respectively in a good summer of business so far.
But it’s painfully obvious that more cutting edge is needed in the final third, and there are deficiencies elsewhere on the pitch too. Let’s take a look at five players Bournemouth should consider signing before the transfer window closes on August 31.
A lack of width is an issue, with Jordan Ibe’s signing from Liverpool last summer not having worked out. Gray often looks a menace in the cameo appearances he is given and has apparently issued a ‘play me or sell me’ demand to Leicester’s board. Bournemouth have reportedly offered nearly £30 million including add-ons and Gray is entitled to want regular first team football after coming on in only the last couple of minutes of Leicester’s opening two games. He possesses exactly the kind of skill and trickery that Howe needs in his side.
Contrary to popular opinion, Wilshere did not have a terrible loan spell at The Vitality Stadium last season. He struggled for goals and assists, but made Bournemouth tick in several games, including the 6-1 demolition of Hull City and the 2-2 draw with Watford. It’s all about whether the England man can string together a series of games, but if he can stay injury-free, he could prove an astute signing. Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is seemingly open to his exit, and Wilshere enjoyed his time on the south coast last season. He’s been linked with a return but it remains to be seen how serious Bournemouth are about bringing him back.
Without a club after his contract expired at Manchester City, Sagna can still do a job in the Premier League. He may not be as quick as he once was, but never disgraced himself when called upon by Pep Guardiola last season – the Spaniard simply wanted a younger more attacking wing-back for City. Bournemouth have one of the worst defences in the Premier League and Sagna’s experience and know-how could be an asset to Howe. He plays predominantly on the right but has also featured at centre-back.
Another player out of favour at Leicester, the Nigerian arrived at the King Power Stadium with much promise, but saw his opportunities restricted in what was a difficult 2016/17 season for the Foxes after their Premier League triumph the year before. Scorer of 42 goals in 125 games for CSKA Moscow, Musa failed to impress last season, but was also not given the number of opportunities that he would have expected, starting just seven games. Musa can play as a striker or on the wing and one suspects there is more to come from him if given the chance. Still just 24, the attacker could add that element of unpredictability to Howe’s side.
The Argentinian is now a squad player at West Brom, where Jake Livermore and Gareth Barry have both been signed by Tony Pulis this year to sit in front of the back four. That is likely to mean less game time for Yacob and it could be a smart move for Howe to look at bringing him in. His contract expires next summer so would be available for reasonable money and he could provide that combative streak that Bournemouth lack at times. Howe’s side undoubtedly have a soft centre and the tough tackling Argentine may slot in nicely in front of Ake and co.
Of the above targets, only Gray and Wilshere have been linked, but the club’s start to the season has demonstrated that they need one or two more bodies, particularly in midfield and on the wing. These players are all realistic signings for the club, even if only on initial loan deals. What will Bournemouth do in the final few days of the transfer window?