Jul 26, 2017
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Why a season in France would benefit Max Gradel and Bournemouth?

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Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe has told the Bournemouth Echo that Max Gradel is still part of his plans, despite interest from Toulouse.

The French outfit had their attempt to bring Gradel to Ligue 1 on loan rejected by the Cherries but they do not appear to have given up the chase quite yet.

Gradel, who signed for the Cherries in 2015 from Saint-Etienne, has had his time on the south coast plagued by injuries, having made just 25 appearances for Bournemouth.

The Ivorian winger has impressed during pre-season on return from a lengthy hamstring injury, but match fitness is still a problem with the season fast approaching.

The big question for Gradel is, even if he is fully fit by the start of the season, will he get regular first-team football at Bournemouth?

The Cherries, for a team relatively new to the top flight, have a lot of attack-minded players at their disposal – Jermaine Defoe, Joshua King, Benik Afobe and Callum Wilson just to name a few.

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If you add Gradel to that long list of players, Eddie Howe will have a headache keeping every player happy and match fit.

A season at Toulouse in a division he has already proven himself in would give Gradel the perfect opportunity to build himself back up and regain that half-a-yard he’ll have lost through injury.

Whilst at Saint-Etienne, he managed almost a goal every three games. Another successful Ligue 1 campaign would leave him in a perfect position to prove himself at Bournemouth on his return.

Even if Gradel did spend a year abroad, he will still have a year left on his contract with the Cherries and Eddie Howe could then decide the best course of action.

A year-long loan deal also relieves any pressure on the Premier League’s youngest manager to rotate his squad to give players more game time.

For now, a loan move appears to benefit all involved, but if Gradel can find his form and hit the ground running in August, maybe Eddie Howe will have to move up his plans.

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Philip Marsh

Philip is a Computer Science graduate with a Masters in Journalism. He supports his home-town club Cardiff City but enjoys watching any game he can. You can find Philip on Twitter @PhilipTSMarsh.