Connect in the back of the net

Premier League new boys AFC Bournemouth recently landed Max Gradel after their £7m bid for the Saint-Etienne star was accepted. The pursuit of the striker has certainly been tough for the Cherries as Gradel has actually been linked with the English club since last summer. However, the lure has obviously definitely been more since Eddie Howe’s side got promoted to the top tier.

It is certainly a bit of a coup for the side as they’ve landed a player with a lot of football experience, someone who has also been capped 41 times by the Ivory Coast. After a successful last season, Gradel had offers from CSKA Moscow and Lille among other clubs but the striker decided to sign for Bournemouth, where he spent a loan spell in 2007/08.

 

Trial with Arsenal and stardom with Saint-Etienne

Gradel, who spent four months on trial to Arsenal as a youngster before signing up to Leicester City’s youth academy, certainly has the profile to be the Cherries biggest star if he kicks on from where he left the last season.

He scored 17 goals from 23 starts for St-Etienne and it wouldn’t be wrong to claim that he almost carried the entire side in the second half of the season with his goals. In the last three games, the player scored five goals including a brace in two of the last games, and grabbed an assist too.

Having started his senior career at Leicester City, Gradel spent a year on loan at Bournemouth and then at Leeds United, the club he then moved to permanently. He therefore should find the transition of playing in England easier and expect to hit the ground running. He is now at the peak of his career and it would be wrong to blame Bournemouth fans for expecting a lot from the new arrival.

 

How does he benefit the Cherries?

The forward can play anywhere across the attack – on the wings, as a second striker and as a lone striker up-front. With the amount the club spent on him, and his performances last season, it is unlikely that Howe has brought him to warm the bench. Gradel could either fight loanee Christian Atsu or Marc Pugh for a spot on the left flank, or be used as a number 10 behind Callum Wilson, who scored 20 goals for the club last season.

Of course, he could be used alone up-front as well. With eight goals and an assist playing on the left for St-Etienne last season, Howe is surely going to consider deploying the player on the wings.

Gradel is a pacey player who likes to dribble and cut inside from wide areas. He also crosses the ball well (which again makes a case for him to play on the wing). His small frame and quick speed allows him to move away from opposite defenders quickly.

Bournemouth will hope that they’ve signed a player who can help them stay up in the competition. Of course it won’t be his job alone but the side has splashed out a sizable sum for him and that, along with the fact that he did so well last season, would carry expectations.

 

Written by Aakriti Mehrotra

Follow Aakriti on Twitter @Aakriti1

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