In the current political landscape, all the talk seems to be about trade deals. So let’s talk about one that has been quietly going from strength to strength in the Premier League.
When you think of Liverpool’s trading relationship with a south coast club, their consistent poaching of Southampton’s top talent immediately springs to mind. Adam Lallana, Sadio Mane, Dejan Lovren and Virgil van Dijk have all swapped St Mary’s for Anfield over the past few years but just their ‘special relationship’ may have now come to an end in favour of a club just up the road.
To give this a Christmassy flavour, if you compare the Premier League to ‘Love Actually’, Liverpool would be Harry, Alan Rickman’s character, Southampton would be his wife Karen, played by Emma Thompson and AFC Bournemouth would be the hot mistress at work, Mia.
Jurgen Klopp is making the most of the new interest and playing it perfectly to his advantage.
This relationship with Bournemouth seems to have been a fruitful one for the Merseysiders, who have certainly got the better of this deal. When Bournemouth broke their transfer record back in 2016 to bring young Liverpool star Jordon Ibe to the club, everybody sat up and took notice.
Little old Bournemouth were now a Premier League club and keen to make a big impact. Ibe was hotly tipped to be Raheem Sterling’s direct replacement at Liverpool and yet he just has not lived up to that potential.
The Cherries splashed out £16.2m on Ibe but now at the age of 23, he is yet to make any real impression on the first team, with just three goals in 76 appearances, something that will severely disappoint manager Eddie Howe.
Still if at first you don’t succeed, try and try again, hey Eddie? Well, that is what the English manager must have been thinking when he went back to Liverpool in January to secure the signing of Dominic Solanke, another young talent.
The premium for English players is high but eyebrows were raised Bournemouth paid £19m for a player who has still only scored one Premier League goal.
To Solanke’s credit, he has got himself back fit and is now playing a big part in Bournemouth’s season, albeit in a deeper role than he is used to. Howe is yet to solve the conundrum on how to get the best out of Josh King, Callum Wilson and Solanke, three obviously talented attackers.
The only former Liverpool player who can be classified as a true success for Bournemouth is wide man Harry Wilson. He signed on loan for the season as a highly rated youngster and has been the Cherries’ shining light, especially over the past month. He has already bagged six goals this season and the threat he provides from set-pieces has been one of Bournemouth’s biggest weapons this season.
He is now proving himself in the Premier League and although he may not be trusted to break into Liverpool’s first team next season he must continue to play games.
Another loan spell on the south coast may not be out of the question for the talented 22-year-old.
In total out of this little trade deal that seems to have developed, Bournemouth have spent £37.68m on three Liverpool players and to date, seen little return on that investment.
Wilson is certainly the most talented of the trio but in truth, Liverpool are probably benefiting more in the long term due to this loan deal.
Solanke has shown glimpses and could well become a top Premier League striker in the future but for Ibe, it looks like a long road back to the top.
Wilson may be cup-tied for this one, but how Ibe and Solanke would love to make a name for themselves against their former club.