Table-toppers AFC Bournemouth will be delighted with their start to the 2021/22 campaign, losing just one of their opening 17 league games and sitting eight points clear of third-placed West Bromwich Albion.
Fulham may have caught up with them in recent games, largely due to Aleksandar Mitrovic’s scintillating form in front of goal, but automatic promotion has to be the main focus at this stage after suffering play-off heartbreak last term.
Many people wouldn’t have expected the Cherries to be in such a strong position at this stage of the season, especially after cashing in on one of their most treasured previous assets in Arnaut Danjuma during the previous window.
Quiz: 28 questions about some of AFC Bournemouth’s most expensive signings – Can you score 100% on this?
Recording 25 goal contributions in all competitions for the south-coast outfit last term, the Dutchman’s move to Villarreal looked set to be a real blow to them ahead of such a crucial season in their history. But they have thrived without the winger and after such a strong start, Scott Parker’s men have established themselves as title favourites going into the winter period.
Keeping the core of their squad together in January could be a key requirement in their quest to maintain their current position though, something they may face a challenge in doing amid potential interest in some of their most treasured assets during the winter window.
With this, we have taken a look at three players who could realistically leave the Vitality Stadium when 2022 comes around as key transfer talking points.
Danish 25-year-old Billing has been a key asset for the Cherries this term, recording an impressive six goals and three assists in 16 league games and looking like of the club’s biggest attacking threats despite operating as a midfielder.
This will only increase interest in his services as we approach the January window, with Premier League outfit Norwich City thought to be one side who were weighing up a move for the Copenhagen-born midfielder throughout the summer.
Already spending three seasons in the top flight of English football, spending two of those with former club Huddersfield Town and one with Bournemouth, he will be craving a return to the promised land with or without his current side at some point.
At this stage though, his current side look more likely to be in the top tier next term as opposed to Norwich, who are currently without a manager, sit bottom of the table and are seemingly in need of a miracle to stay up already.
In good news for Cherries fans, he seems to be committed to the cause at the Vitality Stadium, although the club do need to be wary regarding potential interest from other Premier League sides. He definitely won’t be short of interest after enjoying a good start to the campaign.
Howe planning raid
Newly-appointed Newcastle United manager Eddie Howe is interested in a reunion with centre-back Lloyd Kelly and Colombian international Jefferson Lerma at St James’ Park, according to 90min.com.
Also looking to recruit Nathan Ake, another former Bournemouth player, he is likely to have a sizeable transfer budget to work with on Tyneside after the Magpies’ takeover was confirmed last month, with co-owner Amanda Staveley already taking a hands-on approach.
She has already set her sights on the winter window, stating that investment in the playing squad during the January period would be crucial and with that, foreshadowing a big spending spree in her bid to transform the club.
With Newcastle’s new-found wealth, they may be able to offer deals to the second-tier side that would be hard to refuse, even with one target in Kelly being crucial in a solid Bournemouth backline this season.
The presence of the likes of Chris Mepham and Lewis Cook may persuade officials on the south coast to cash in on two prized assets, but whether they would want to cause that much disruption to the squad midway through the campaign remains to be seen.
Time for a Surridge replacement?
Dominic Solanke and Jamal Lowe are two solid options for the Cherries to have up top in the Championship, there can be no doubts about that.
Added to that, Stoke City summer signing Sam Surridge didn’t exactly make much of an impact at Bournemouth whilst he was at the club, scoring just four goals in 29 Championship games last term.
However, another forward to compete with the likes of Solanke and Lowe, with the latter spending much of his career as a winger as opposed to a centre-forward, could be crucial in ensuring they have sufficient attacking firepower to secure automatic promotion to the Premier League.
They may have Morgan Rogers’ potential permanent deal in mind, with Lowe and Ryan Christie’s signings swallowing up much of the revenue generated for Surridge, but Danjuma’s sale should give them the ability to splash out on a new striker and still keep within the EFL’s profit and sustainability rules.
This seems to be the main position they need to address now with a respectable amount of depth in most other areas of their team.