How are AFC Bournemouth planning for the future after selling stars…?
Bournemouth fans experienced their toughest transfer window in years, having to bid a fond farewell to fan favourites. The disappointment was piled on as two club legends – Charlie Daniels and Simon Francis – announced their retirement after ten happy years at the club where they won major accolades, climbed the leagues and stamped their names into the AFC Bournemouth history books.
Despite losing star players, Bournemouth’s business has many positives. The Cherries kept hold of key players and even added a Champions League starter, dubbed a ‘wonderkid’. The players seem pleased with the current squad, with Jack Stacey saying, “I’ve been impressed with all the young guys. You look at them in pre-season friendlies and the Carabao Cup… I think they’ve shown they’ve staked their claim for a place in the squad. Maybe that’s one of the reasons we haven’t brought in as many players”.
Bournemouth were fairly quiet in this summer’s transfer window, but they did acquire Rodrigo Riquelme on a season-long loan. This 20-year-old is a highly touted prospect out of Atlético Madrid’s academy, one that has produced the likes of Sergio Aguero, Fernando Torres, and many more. Atleti regard Riquelme as the second coming of Antoine Griezmann, with Atlético Madrid’s academy director Juan Angel Ruiz telling GOAL.com, “His change of pace is brutal and is something that could differentiate him from others in his age group. He has speed, change of pace and the ability to overpower an opponent in one-on-one situation”.
Riquelme has left a lasting impression on Cherries right-back, Jack Stacey. After going up against the Spaniard in training, Stacey immediately noticed his superstar potential noting, “He clearly has a lot of quality so it’s a massive coup for us. Hopefully he can help us get to where we want to be”. Bournemouth managed to pry him away from promotion contenders, Reading – who he was training with at the time.
Riquelme was seduced to the sunny south saying, “I was really surprised when Bournemouth came in for me because Bournemouth are very good club in England. They had five years in the Premier League”. He was eager to join the Cherries, “as a team, they have all the things to get promoted. It’s a place where the style of football is similar to mine.”
Bournemouth fans should be excited about the new signing as the wonderkid shone for the Rojiblancos in the UEFA Youth League, netting two and teeing up four in just seven appearances. He then took his talents to the Atlético Madrid B side, who play in the Spanish second division. There, he featured in 18 games, scoring five and assisting two.
So, what can Bournemouth fans expect from the 20-year-old? Well, he plays as though the ball is on a string; a skilful dribbler with incredible close control. This allows him to weave between tacklers using his low centre of gravity. Riquelme operates on the wing, making the most of his elite crossing ability.
The Spanish prodigy was not the only addition. A deadline day deal saw the arrival of centre-back Cameron Carter-Vickers from Tottenham Hotspur. The American international is a Championship journeyman, having spending time at six Championship clubs in the last three years, most recently with Luton and Stoke. His most successful spell was with Sheffield United where he and the club won promotion.
Chris Wilder said, “He’s athletic, he’s strong and if you look at him, he’s built like an ox so he can deal with the ball”. This self-proclaimed ‘hard man’ takes pride in defending and has shown his ability to tackle, winning 75% of battles in the 2017/18 and 2019/20 campaigns. The 22-year-old is a serviceable replacement for an injured Lloyd Kelly, and adds more quality to the squad depth.
THE END OF AN ERA, BUT THE START OF A LEGACY
It was to be expected that the AFC Bournemouth core would disappear this season. The sale of Callum Wilson will be the most detrimental, a steady 15-goal-a-season scorer who has previously terrorised the Championship, bagging 20 goals in the 2014/2015 campaign. The Bournemouth board are backing Dominic Solanke, which is still quite risky considering the Englishman is yet to prove himself in a major league.
It would be naïve to see the loss of Nathan Aké as a surprise; the Dutch international was rumoured to move away for several seasons. It was a matter of when, not if. The former 2017/2018 Player Of The Year had a unique connection with the Bournemouth faithful, being deemed Bournemouth’s greatest signing and potentially the best player to have worn the red and black stripe. However, Jason Tindall and Bournemouth were prepared for Aké’s inevitable departure, signing and nurturing Lloyd Kelly, Chris Mepham, Jack Simpson and now Carter-Vickers to be replacements.
The departure of Aaron Ramsdale, however, hurts. The goalkeeper recorded the second-most saves in the Premier League last season. Bournemouth thought they had found their Number One for years to come, but after such an impressive debut campaign he was reclaimed by his boyhood club, Sheffield United. Ramsdale was passionate about the Cherries, tearing up and apologising to the supporters after Bournemouth’s relegation, marking himself as a fan favourite in the meantime. The same can’t be said for Ryan Fraser who forced his way out after refusing to re-sign. In spite of his unprofessional exit, his production will be missed, as he tallied twelve assists in 2018/2019 (the second-most in the league).
There is a silver lining, however. By selling Wilson, Aké and Ramsdale, Bournemouth managed to generate £85 million, having only spent £22.5 million on the trio. A profit of £62.5million. Great business. But instead of reinvesting the £85 million into the current squad, Bournemouth will use that fortune to fund the construction of their new training facility. The sale of Bournemouth’s biggest stars will allow the project to progress without any financial glitches.
Before leaving, Eddie Howe supported the venture saying, “It’s been a huge, huge thing for me to leave something. Whether you call it a legacy or something tangible for the club, where they can go, ‘Right, that’s something the Premier League has left this club forever”. ‘Legacy’ being a state-in-the-art football Mecca. The 235,000m² Canford Magna site, costing approximately £35 million, will promote Bournemouth from having a Category 3 academy (comparable to a League Two side) to a Category 2 academy (one that matches the Championship standard). The new training ground will give Bournemouth a more sustainable business model as explained by AFC Bournemouth director, Richard Hughes:
“We can’t keep signing players for huge sums of money — it’s not going to happen for us, long-term. There’s no way we can sustain it, so these measures are hugely important for the future of the club”.
We saw the first implementation of this philosophy in the window just gone. Nurturing young homegrown talent is at the forefront of the model, developing players that can contribute at the top level. This model will also allow Bournemouth to breed and sell a crop of academy graduates for huge fees. It’s a system that has been successful in the past with South Coast rivals, Southampton.
So, the reinvestment of the £85 million may not have an immediate impact, but it is a plan for the long-term. One that Bournemouth desperately needed to position themselves as a ‘big’ club and allow them to be competitive for years to come.
AT LEAST THEY HAVEN’T SOLD EVERYONE…
After a fire sale in the early months, Jason Tindall shut up shop as the season commenced; standing firm on their valuations of Josh King and David Brooks and fending off Premier League outfits to retain both. A power move from the newly appointed first-time manager. Bournemouth have been aided by the Premier League’s ‘Parachute Payment Scheme’, which gives relegated sides an additional 40% of TV revenue, so they can continue to pay expensive contracts because they are not generating the same income in the Championship. This scheme has enabled Bournemouth to be financially stable this season and in a healthy position to reject offers from bigger clubs. A huge bonus for the South Coast side!
TRANSFER WINDOW GRADE — D