Written by Toby Foster (@TobyFost)
Winger Ryan Fraser will leave AFC Bournemouth within the next fortnight after the club announced he had declined a short-term contract extension offer.
The 26-year-old Scottish international’s current deal is due to expire at the end of June, and it is expected that he will play no further part in the Cherries’ season.
Fraser scored 24 goals and made 208 appearances for Bournemouth in all competitions after signing from Aberdeen for a reported £400,000 in January 2013.
He was part of the Cherries team which gained promotion from League One in 2012/13, and the Championship-winning side in 2014/15. Despite spending the following season on loan at Ipswich Town, he returned to help Bournemouth to their best-ever top-flight finish in 2017.
Fraser found goals hard to come by during the current campaign, finding the net just once despite starting all-but-one of Bournemouth’s 29 league matches before the suspension of English football in March.
A diminutive figure at 5ft 4in, his toughness and explosive pace on the ball has led to recent interest from Arsenal and Tottenham in the transfer market, but a clutch of clubs including Crystal Palace, Watford, Newcastle and Galatasaray are also reportedly keen on securing Fraser’s services.
Meanwhile, a quartet of Bournemouth players whose deals also expire at the end of the month have agreed contracts to stay until the conclusion of the season.
Charlie Daniels, Andrew Surman, club captain Simon Francis and 40-year-old backup goalkeeper Artur Boruc will all remain available for the Cherries’ final nine games of the 2019/20 campaign.
Since the Premier League was halted over thirteen weeks ago with AFC Bournemouth’s top-flight survival in serious jeopardy, supporters on the south coast have been left on tenterhooks.
Sitting in the relegation zone with 27 points from 29 games, the Cherries’ chances of escaping the drop look precarious at best.
So, with Manchester United, Tottenham, Leicester and Manchester City all awaiting the Cherries in their punishing run-in, a positive start to the resumed campaign is crucial in this weekend’s fixture against Crystal Palace at the Vitality Stadium.
But the news of Ryan Fraser’s decision not to see out the season at Bournemouth will be a bitter blow to Eddie Howe as he readies himself for the toughest battle of his managerial career.
Upon hearing the news of Fraser’s imminent departure, a number of social media users and certain voluble pundits rushed to condemn his supposed ‘betrayal’ of the club he has served for much of the past decade.
Former Arsenal striker Ray Parlour even branded Fraser “a disgrace” on talkSPORT earlier this week after rumours of his refusal to sign a new short-term deal emerged.
😡 “It’s a disgrace!”
🤔 “If I’m looking to sign him I’d look at his character.”
🤕 “You can’t worry about injuries, you can get injured in training!”
😫 “If #AFCB went down it would ruin my career thinking about it.”
Ray Parlour didn’t hold back when asked about Ryan Fraser pic.twitter.com/LKPl7eEtHT
— talkSPORT (@talkSPORT) June 12, 2020
But those slamming the Scotsman’s decision would be wise to consider that details of the short-term contract offered to him have not been disclosed.
It remains a mystery as to what terms Fraser was asked to accept in order to continue with the Cherries. Until he is given the opportunity to explain the decision in his own words, the winger’s critics might be better off biting their tongues.
Fraser is also far from alone among his contemporaries in rejecting a deal of this kind. Four players from Hull City did the same earlier this week, while Chelsea are yet to come to any short-term arrangements with soon-to-depart duo Willian and Pedro.
It is an undoubtable disappointment that such a prominent player is quitting the Cherries so abruptly, despite his performances this season leaving a lot to be desired.
But the club cannot afford to dwell on this latest setback for long. Relegation-threatened sides can only escape the drop if they learn to roll with the punches.