When AFC Bournemouth announced the signing of Welsh international David Brooks last summer, questions were raised over the £10 million price tag.
With just 30 Championship caps – three goals in all – the 21-year-old was fairly unknown coming into the 18/19 season.
But quickly, Brooks became a name that everyone was talking about.
When the 2017 Toulon Tournament came to its conclusion with England Under-21s reigning victorious, the Warrington-born midfielder was named Player of the Tournament and began making ripples across the footballing world.
Fast forward to summer 2018, Brooks was on the radar of Eddie Howe and Bournemouth – leading to the eventual transfer going through for £10 million, rising to £11.5 million.
In the massively inflated British transfer market, a homegrown talent secured for as little as that is nothing short of a bargain.
Pressure to perform?
Perhaps Bournemouth was at an advantage when it came to signing Brooks in the summer, in that there was no real expectation for them to land a marquee, big-name signing to go forth with their season.
Unlike the likes of Manchester United, Manchester City and the rest of the big six, the Cherries in no position to splash copious amounts of money on players.
And so, much like this case, teams like Bournemouth opt for talented players operating under the radar.
A high price tag often comes with the expectation to perform immediately.
For some, that doesn’t intimidate them – like Riyad Mahrez when he initially signed for Leicester City – but for others the pressure can be a little too much. (Just ask Alexis Sanchez at Man United.)
But, as Howe has recognised, Brooks needed no adjustment period and has rather entered the fray ready to perform on the highest stage of English football.
Brooks’ run of form
The manager’s faith in the youngster has been subsequently restored as he continues to perform on the big stage, quickly becoming one of Bournemouth’s most important players.
In fact, when compared to other young players who play similar positions, Brooks is proving to be an invaluable asset to the Cherries.
For example: (P – Matches Played, G – Goals Scored, A – Assists)
Demarai Gray (Leicester) – P23 G3 A1
Pierre-Emile Højbjerg (Southampton) – P19 G3 A1
James Maddison (Leicester) – P24 G5 A4
David Brooks – P22 G6 A4
While the difference isn’t necessarily staggering, to say the least, it proves that the Welshman has proved himself to be considerably more clinical than his counterparts.
And, as we all know, statistics are only half the story. Watching Bournemouth it is clear to see that Brooks pulls the strings behind the scenes.
He has an air of another successful youngster, Jesse Lingard, about him.
In the sense that his constant movement off the ball, moving into dangerous positions and always finding the right pass at crucial moments can sometimes go unnoticed – but he works tirelessly nonetheless.
Both on and off the ball, David Brooks has proved himself at this level already and there’s no wonder he is being linked with the likes of Man United and Tottenham.
He’d be a great asset to any team he is a part of.
Brooks is currently injured, and will be out for a while longer.
It is thus apparent why Bournemouth are doing so badly of late. His role in this team cannot be underestimated.
At a time when young British talent needs to move to the Bundesliga to be given their opportunity, both Brooks and Bournemouth can count themselves lucky for finding each other.
But if any of the ‘Big Six’ come knocking, specifically Man United of whom Brooks is a lifelong fan, will Bournemouth be able to keep a hold of him?
It remains to be seen. For now, the Welshman has been the pivot behind an exciting Cherries attack.
Written by Courtney Hill (@cjhsport)