Over three years ago, Dominic Solanke seemed destined to be the next English striker to rule the Prem. Instead, he struggled to find a spot with Liverpool and joined Bournemouth in hopes of using the club as a springboard. Now with 12 goals, rumors are springing up with larger clubs looking for him as a source of goals.
For a while, Solanke became the posterboy of the wonderkids who had flopped. His reputation so early into his career never carried over, even as he put up respectable numbers in the Championship.
Make no mistake, Bournemouth are a solid side, but without Solanke, they would be in trouble. His outputs account for 46% of the team’s goals. After struggling last season in the Prem, the Englishman has finally settled into the league with his game growing.
Given his numbers and the struggles of certain top half clubs, it’s no surprise that Solanke is popping up in transfer rumors. Teams like Arsenal and Tottenham could certainly be seen as suitors for the striker. The biggest question for both player and club is can his game translate at a higher level?
So much is placed on players to achieve the lofty expectations projected by fans, but it’s hard to just write off players if they don’t meet them. Yes Solanke hasn’t become the new Harry Kane, but he’s been a solid professional, which is an achievement on its own.
FIFA fans became quite acquainted with Solanke early into his career. Those who spent enough time with FIFA 18 saw just how highly the developers rated the youngster.
Going from Chelsea to Liverpool at 20 made certain that the eyes of the sport would be on him. There was no way that Solanke could have broken into that Liverpool at the time. Liverpool clearly saw him as a project, but he needed reps to fully develop in the Prem.
After just one season, Liverpool gave up on the striker and found Bournemouth willing to take Solanke. The first two seasons with the Cherries saw Solanke struggle to adapt to life in the Prem, bringing on the flop label. It was really in the Championship where Solanke found form at the professional level.
Two good seasons in the Championship were followed by a mediocre season, with most seeing him as being a Championship caliber player. However, everything has clicked for the Englishman this season.
Andoni Iraola’s system allows for Solanke to really thrive by playing as a poacher. Every player around him works to create for him or operate in the space he opens. Additionally, the side lives on the counter and this helps Solanke latch onto chances.
Playing in a formation that emphasizes the offense rather than the defense, as last year, opens up play for Solanke. In turn, this has helped the Englishman settle by letting him just be a play finisher. The striker may not be the most dynamic, but he’s a poacher that most teams would kill for.
While he hasn’t reached the heights many expected, Solanke is a solid Premier League striker. Perhaps he will never play for a larger club, but the work he’s put in has ensured that he will avoid the title of bust for now.
Arsenal are rumored to be one of the clubs interested in the Englishman to solidify their waning offense. However, January transfers rarely have the impact teams hope for.
With the AFCON and AFC cups about to start, teams will get desperate in the window to address absences. Plenty of teams will have players at the tournaments, but they will come back, barring major injury. Even though teams like Liverpool and Tottenham will be missing vital players, it’s unlikely that they would bring in a piece that might disturb the team once the players return.
Few clubs outside of Arsenal make sense for Solanke, given their recent struggles up top. This team needs a striker to get the offense going unlike any other. It’s conceivable that Solanke could, at the very least, provide the goals that could wake this side up.
As plenty of fans know, especially Fulham ones, the January market is a total crap shoot. There may be some hits, i.e. Virgil van Dijk, but the majority of the time, they’ll be Kostas Mitroglou.
January allows for clubs to reset. Either they will bring in needed reinforcements to reinvigorate a bench or sell off players at their peak value. It’s the closest that football has to the NBA trade deadline.
Because teams rush to make decisions during this window, there is little time to evaluate whether a player cna make that leap. Take Andy Carroll jumping from Newcastle to Liverpool after a hot strat, the move was too early in his career and he never adapted to life at a larger club. When discussing Solanke, this has to be a real concern, thus it may be better to wait for the summer to see if this form carries.
Desperation can and will drive any club to make rash decisions. To be honest, this is why the January window exists.
Solanke is a great example of how a player can redefine the expectations placed on them at a young age to be a good professional. Without the Englishman, Bournemouth would be in a death spiral, he’s become their most important player. Clubs will come for him, but will he finally find redemption at a top club.
Featured image: Bournemouth