Written by Adam McGroarty (@AdamMcGroarty1)
In just the first week of the January transfer window, Dominic Solanke became AFC Bournemouth’s first acquisition of 2019 in a £19m move from Liverpool.
The former Chelsea academy graduate moved to Liverpool on a free deal at the expiry of his contract in 2017. Since then, the Englishman has occasionally featured for Liverpool’s youth side in the ‘PL 2’ competition, scoring three goals in a total of five matches.
The striker was an important member of England’s Under-20’s World Cup winning side, where he netted four goals in seven matches.
The competition also saw Solanke achieve success alongside Bournemouth’s Lewis Cook, a connection that can now be reignited – albeit when Cook returns from an untimely anterior cruciate ligament injury.
However, despite Solanke’s impressive international record, some fans are concerned by the fee paid for the 21 year old. One perspective is that £19m has been paid for a striker that is unproven at the top level and could easily not live up to the price tag. This is perhaps is where the move can be compared to that of Jordon Ibe’s transfer from Liverpool to Bournemouth.
The young Englishman joined the Cherries in the summer of 2016 for a fee of around £15m, but arguably is yet to prove his potential with just two goals in the Premier League for Bournemouth. This has caused some fans to perhaps raise an eye at the Solanke move, being reluctant to buy into the ‘wonder kid’ labels.
What does this mean for Wilson?
Many concerned Bournemouth fans were quick to jump to the conclusion that this deal would see the departure of Callum Wilson, with Chelsea reportedly interested in a £50m deal for the striker.
However, it appears that this immediate reaction is far from the case. Also in the first week of the January window, Jermain Defoe left the Cherries to join Steven Gerrard’s Rangers in a loan deal. This move frees up a space in the squad for another striker, and therefore Solanke’s move looks to refill the vacant striker position.
Eddie Howe has often alternated from a 4-2-3-1 tactical style with a lone striker, to a 4-4-2 variation which forms an attacking duo. This means that even if Solanke was to be a certain name on every team sheet, there would still be room for the likes of Wilson to play alongside him.
The partnership could develop into a rather clinical one, particularly with Wilson currently equalling his highest return in the Premier League yet. However, it will most definitely take time to set in place, with Solanke ruled out until February as confirmed by Howe at his pre-Everton press conference.
The lack of game time Solanke has had at Liverpool makes the situation fairly comparable to Lucas Moura, who joined Tottenham last January. The Brazilian hadn’t featured for PSG that season due to the likes of Neymar being picked ahead of him. This meant that when he joined Spurs, Pochettino had to ease him in slowly and only this season has he been a permanent pick in the team selection.
There is potential for a similar situation to occur with Solanke. Howe will have to manage his progression and fitness closely in order to ease the youngster into the Cherries side.
There is no doubt that Solanke has the skill to make it in the Premier League, and this move is one that will excite Bournemouth fans. Some brilliant ambition has been portrayed by the club to get this deal done, and their reward could well be a heap of goals in 2019.