AFC Bournemouth moved to bolster their squad with the addition of Preston North End midfielder Ben Pearson in the January transfer window, with Jason Tindall taking advantage of a precarious situation at Deepdale.
Pearson established himself as one of the more impressive central midfielders in the Championship during his five-year spell at North End, racking up 165 appearances for the club following his arrival from Manchester United in 2016.
Pearson was among a number of soon to be out-of-contract players to leave North End in January, though. Darnell Fisher and Ben Davies were also entering the final six months of their contracts, with North End cutting their losses and cashing in for a cut-price. The former joining Middlesbrough, and the latter securing a dream move to Liverpool.
Despite strong links with Scottish giants Celtic, it was Bournemouth who won the race for the Pearson, as Tindall added another body to his already talented midfield ranks.
It’s a situation which Preston will have wanted to avoid, but months of procrastinating and perhaps a little bit of naivety saw Alex Neil lose three key players for fees much lower than their true valuation.
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Pearson has been a steady addition for the Cherries thus far, featuring seven times in all competitions in what has been a turbulent few weeks for the club.
It remains to be seen whether Jonathan Woodgate takes charge on more of a permanent basis beyond this campaign, but whoever takes the reins will have a number of big decisions to make on players’ futures ahead of next season.
David Brooks is set to be out of contract, with the winger bound to attract top-flight interest regardless of promotion or not, and Lewis Cook is also set to enter the final year of his deal.
Cook has been a key player for Bournemouth since joining from Leeds United for £7million in 2016, making 120 appearances for the Cherries in total. The 24-year-old put pen to paper on a new four-year deal in 2018, shortly before rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.
It has been a tough time of late for Cook, though, with the midfielder picking up the same injury in a 1-1 draw with Preston just under a fortnight ago.
It would be unfair to suggest that Bournemouth fell to a 3-2 home defeat to Barnsley at the weekend solely because of Cook’s absence, but they lacked the tempo and control the 24-year-old tends to bring whenever he steps onto the grass.
The midfielder – who has been ruled out for the season – is likely to be missing for months, but that shouldn’t distract the board from making a decision on his future. Cook is a hugely integral player, and Bournemouth cannot afford to let his deal run down before one of the big boys comes in and approaches him potentially on a pre-contract basis.
Bournemouth capitalised on a similar situation in January, but they need to avoid the risk of tasting their own medicine in 12 months’ time.